Briefcase – March 2020

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Prairie Mountain Media buys Greeley Tribune

GREELEY — Prairie Mountain Media has purchased the Greeley Tribune for an undisclosed amount, adding to the company’s near-total domination of the newspaper market along the Front Range. The deal, announced Feb. 24, brings the Tribune from Swift Communications Inc. under the same ownership umbrella as the Denver Post, Boulder Daily Camera, Loveland Reporter-Herald, Fort Morgan Times, Sterling Journal Advocate, Longmont Times-Call, Estes Park Trail-Gazette, Broomfield Enterprise and a group of other weekly papers. Swift had owned the Tribune for 43 years.

Dairy Farmers of America bids to buy Greeley milk plant from brink of closure

GREELEY — Dairy Farmers of America Inc. is offering to buy a dairy plant in Greeley and retain its workforce, a day after the bankrupt Dean Foods Co. (NYSE: DF) told state officials it intends to lay off 82 workers. The DFA, an agricultural cooperative based in Kansas City, Kansas, lists the Greeley plant and a sister facility in Englewood among the 44 locations it plans to buy from Southern Food Group LLC for a combined $425 million, according to bankruptcy filings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Southern Texas. The two plants produce milk for sale under the Meadow Gold brand name. The Dallas-based Southern Food Group does business as Dean Foods and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November. Dean said it plans to permanently close the dairy at 450 25th St. and axe the 82 jobs there, according to a WARN notice filed with Colorado officials. In the letter, Dean said the plant was shut down recently by federal health inspectors after its wastewater-treatment equipment was deemed inadequate, and the company doesn’t have the funds to bring the plant back up to code. In its filing, DFA said it will offer to re-hire every employee working at the acquired Dean plants.

Smoker Friendly purchases 22-store Tobacco Road

BOULDER — A Boulder family-owned tobacco and gas company has broadened its reach in the southeast coast. The Cigarette Store Corp., which does business as Smoker Friendly, has acquired 22 Tobacco Road Outlet stores in North Carolina. Under the Smoker Friendly brand, the company owns 20 Gasamat convenience stores in the United States. The Tobacco Road locations bring the company to 157 retail operations, including tobacco stores, cigar lounges, liquor stores and gas stations. These fall under the banners of Smoker Friendly, Tobacco Depot, paylesscigarsandpipes.com and Gasamat. The company has about 700 employees.

E Source acquires Louisiana utility consultant

BOULDER –– E Source Energy Cos. LLC, which provides utility companies with research and consultation, acquired UtiliWorks Consulting LLC on Feb. 6. UtiliWorks, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a consulting firm that specializes in water, gas and electric utility markets, will provide E Source with its Smart City Assessment tool and data optimization.

Zingfit acquired by private  equity firm

BOULDER — Private equity investment firm Advent International Corp. recently bought Zingfit LLC, a Boulder software firm that develops programs and applications for gyms, yoga studios and fitness brands.  Terms of the deal, which was led by Advent subsidiary Transaction Services Group, were not disclosed.  Zingfit CEO John Bogosian and chief technology officer Jeremy Firesenbaum will take on advisory roles with Transaction Services Group, according to an Advent news release.

Cascade buys Amerimax Windows, including Loveland plant

LOVELAND — A Spokane, Washington-based company has purchased Amerimax Windows & Doors, which operates a Loveland manufacturing plant at 3950 Medford Drive.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Window Products Inc., which operates as Cascade Windows, acquired Amerimax, including its manufacturing plants in Loveland and Woodland, California, from OmniMax International Inc., based in Georgia. The Loveland facility opened in 1986. Cascade is backed by Dallas-based private equity company CenterOak Partners LLC.

Amerimax manufactures vinyl windows and doors focused on the residential retrofit and replacement markets.

EXPANSIONS

The National Center for Atmospheric Research research aviation center at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport is home to Gulfstream V and C-130 research aircraft. Lucas High/BizWest

NCAR building research flight facility at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport

BROOMFIELD — Local luminaries in the science, government and higher-education fields gathered in Broomfield to celebrate the beginning of construction of a new National Center for Atmospheric Research facility at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport designed to support NCAR’s aviation missions. The $22 million, 42,000-square-foot facility will replace NCAR’s roughly 50-year-old existing flight center, which is about half that size and houses Gulfstream V and C-130 research aircraft. It is a partnership among NCAR, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and the National Science Foundation.

NoCo’s first Catholic high school to open in fall

WINDSOR — The first Catholic high school in Northern Colorado is scheduled to open for fall classes this year. The school, to be called Chesterton Academy of St. John Paul II, will be located in Windsor, at first in temporary quarters at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. Broomfield’s Holy Family High School is the closest location to Northern Colorado of a Catholic high school. The new school, which results from efforts that extend at least 20 years, will enroll ninth graders beginning this fall and add grades year by year until it teaches all four years of high school. The school said it may add a 10th grade class this fall if enough interest is shown.

Front Range Biosciences will set up its headquarters at 6400 Lookout Road in Gunbarrel. Courtesy Keys Commercial Real Estate

Front Range Biosciences takes over 40K-square-foot Boulder office space

BOULDER — Front Range Biosciences Inc., an agricultural biotech company focused on high-value crops such as cannabis, formerly based in Lafayette, recently leased a nearly 40,000-square-foot office space that will serve as the firm’s new headquarters. The new headquarters at 6400 Lookout Road in Gunbarrel previously housed BI Inc. That firm, which designs and manufactures monitoring technology such as GPS ankle bracelets and alcohol-monitoring devices for law-enforcement agencies, now operates out of offices at 6265 Gunbarrel Ave.

FoCo medical-device company plans 100,000-square-foot warehouse

FORT COLLINS — A potential sister company to two medical device makers has submitted plans to build a 100,815-square-foot manufacturing plant and office on the city’s southeast side. Precision Technologies LLC submitted concept plans to build a new headquarters and distribution center, split between about 17,000 square feet of office space and 83,700 square feet of warehouse space, in the Harmony Technology Park north of Fossil Ridge High School, according to conceptual review plans submitted to Fort Collins city officials. Precision Technologies bought the 4.65-acre plot at 3486 Precision Drive for just over $1.5 million in 2016, according to Larimer County property records. It’s not clear what exactly Precision Technologies produces. The company is registered to Marcia Coulson, president of Denver-based Eldon James Corp. and Fort Collins-based Wilmarc Medical LLC, and the registered address is the same as Wilmarc’s.

Portland social-media startup to open Boulder office

PORTLAND, Oregon and BOULDER — Cloud Campaign Inc. plans to open a permanent office in Boulder this summer, a year after it completed a startup program in the city. The company, which produces software for marketing companies to manage multiple social-media channels on one interface, currently has offices in Portland. However, it has Boulder connections, having been part of the Boomtown accelerator last year. Co-founder Ryan Born told BizWest that he will move to Boulder to set up the company’s product-development and marketing office, while the company’s sales, customer support and operations staff will remain in Portland. Cloud Campaign aims to grow to 12 employees by the end of the year, split evenly between the two offices.

Amazon’s distribution center in Loveland’s Centerra District. The e-commerce giant started its lease of the building in November. Courtesy McWhinney

Amazon leases Centerra building for delivery center

LOVELAND — Amazon Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) leased a 123,000-square-foot industrial building in Loveland’s Centerra district late last year for deliveries into Northern Colorado. McWhinney Real Estate Services Inc. said the e-commerce giant occupied the building at 4541 Viking Way last November and remodeled it for its specific needs. The building is in an industrial park south of Northern Colorado Regional Airport. Amazon maintains two fulfillment centers in the Denver metro area, with a 2.4 million-square-foot location in Thornton and a 1 million-square-foot location in Aurora. It also operates a software-development office at 1900 15th St. in Boulder and a 19,000-square-foot distribution center at 3550 Frontier Ave. in Boulder. Amazon in April 2019 acquired Boulder warehouse-robotics company Canvas Technology LLC.

BRIEFS

Banner Health taps new CEO for three NoCo hospitals

GREELEY — Banner Health has promoted Hoyt Skabelund to CEO of three of its hospitals in Northern Colorado. In a statement, the Arizona-based medical provider said Skabelund will now lead McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Banner Fort Collins Medical Center and North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley. Skabelund previously led the company’s entire rural hospital division. Margo Karsten, the former head of the Northern Colorado hospitals, will remain with Banner as its western region president, focusing on larger strategy for the network’s 10 rural hospitals in California, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. Karsten was previously both the Northern Colorado CEO and the regional president.

Elder Construction denies Honeywell’s accusations of lab defects

BROOMFIELD — Elder Construction Inc. is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit from Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) over alleged climate-control defects in the manufacturing conglomerate’s research office in Broomfield. In filings with the U.S. District Court of Colorado, the Windsor contractor said that while Honeywell did have complaints about certain parts of its work for three rooms in Honeywell’s research facility at 303 S. Technology Court, none of those complaints came from a direct result of Elder’s work. Elder also accused Honeywell of breaching the construction contract and causing damages through its own actions or failure to act, but didn’t specifically say how it believes Honeywell broke the agreement. Honeywell first sued Elder in late November, claiming that Elder failed to construct a climate-control system that would keep certain research rooms at near-exactly 70 degrees and 40 percent humidity after the two parties signed a contract in 2016. Honeywell is asking the court to force Elder to pay just under $3 million to cover the costs of Honeywell hiring another firm to redesign the air-conditioning system.

UNC to lay off 65 employees  in spring

GREELEY — Almost a year after eliminating 80 vacant positions and laying off 11 non-faculty employees, the University of Northern Colorado will slash 65 jobs in the coming months as it seeks to address continuing budgetary challenges. Additionally, an unknown number of vacant positions will not be filled. The cuts were announced in a letter to faculty and staff from UNC president Andy Feinstein and come as the university seeks to address a structural deficit.

“At this point, decisions are still being weighed and finalized,” Feinstein wrote. “What we do know is making these changes will result in layoffs and elimination of vacant positions. Although an exact number is not yet known, our current projection is that approximately 65 people could be laid off across campus.” Feinstein said decisions on what positions will be cut should come by mid-March, with notification to affected employees and the campus overall between late March and early April.

OPENINGS

The Tesla showroom in Superior has opened after about two years of planning and construction. Lucas High/BizWest

Tesla sales, service center in Superior opens at last

SUPERIOR — The Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA) showroom in downtown Superior has opened after roughly two years of planning and construction. The Silicon Valley-based electric-car maker’s newest Colorado outpost began to welcome customers Feb. 4. Approved by Superior town leaders in early 2018, the 22,000-square-foot sales and service center at the corner of McCaslin Boulevard and Marshall Road was initially expected to open in spring 2019. The Superior showroom is the first Tesla dealership to operate in the Boulder Valley since the company moved its Boulder location to Denver in 2011. Tesla also has Colorado dealerships in Littleton and Lone Tree.

Hog Wild Barbecue snags former Kitchen space in Greeley

GREELEY — Diners in Greeley soon will have a new option for barbecue in the city. Hog Wild Barbecue LLC, a Fort Collins-based barbecue restaurant, is expanding into the city. Owner Chris Robinson on Jan. 21 filed for a business license with the city of Greeley to occupy space that formerly housed The Kitchen at 905 16th St., across from the University of Northern Colorado campus. Hog Wild specializes in Southern-style pulled-pork sandwiches, barbecue-beef brisket, smoked chicken and ribs.

EARNINGS

Heska edges profit expectations after quarter of European acquisitions

LOVELAND — Heska Corp. (Nasdaq: HSKA) surprised investors with a slightly positive earnings-per-share figure in the fourth quarter after a European buying spree. The Loveland veterinary diagnostics company reported $33.77 million in revenue for the quarter, a year-over-year drop of almost 1 percent and $160,000 short of Wall Street consensus expectations, according to data compiled by Seeking Alpha. However, Heska posted a gain of 7 cents per share for the quarter instead of the expected loss of 2 cents per share.

Clovis revenues rise by nearly half in 2019

BOULDER — Clovis Oncology Inc. (Nasdaq: CLVS) barely topped expected revenue estimates for it last quarter of 2019 after a year when its cancer-treatment sales rose by almost 50 percent. The Boulder biopharmaceutical company posted $39.3 million in revenue last quarter, a $9.6 million increase from the same period in 2018. That beat Wall Street consensus estimates by just $330,000, according to data compiled by Seeking Alpha. However, those additional sales were dragged down by an increase of $3.6 million in overall expenses. The company lost $1.81 per share in the period, 10 cents worse than expected by analysts.

DMC Global’s Q4 sales drop, despite fiscal-year increase

BROOMFIELD — DMC Global Inc. (Nasdaq: BOOM) recorded record sales in fiscal year 2019, but saw revenues drop in the fourth quarter compared with the same period last year. Fourth-quarter sales were $86.4 million, down 14 percent from the third quarter and 4 percent from the last quarter in fiscal year 2018, according to the firm’s recently released earnings report. DMC Global attributes the dip to a “sharp decline in North American well completion activity, which negatively impacted demand at DynaEnergetics, DMC’s oilfield products business.” Despite the tough quarter, DMC Global posted full-year revenues of $397.6 million, a company record and a 22 percent increase over 2018. Full-year 2019 net income was $34 million, or $2.28 per diluted share, while full-year adjusted net income was $55.6 million, or $3.75 per diluted share.

Pilgrim’s Pride beats revenue estimates despite Mexican market troubles

GREELEY — Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. (Nasdaq: PPC) recorded revenues north of $3 billion last quarter, but missed earnings-per-share estimates. The Greeley-based chicken producer posted revenues of $3.06 billion in the last three months of 2019, a 15 percent increase since that same period in 2018, according to its earnings report. That beat Wall Street consensus estimates by $170 million, according to data compiled by Seeking Alpha. However, its non-adjusted earnings-per-share figure of 14 cents missed analysts expectations by 12 cents. Quarterly net income totaled $92 million, compared with a loss of $7.3 million in the same period a year ago. In a prepared statement, CEO Jayson Penn said chicken commodity prices were more favorable in the period than in the fourth quarter of 2018, but broader worries in the Mexican economy for the quarter drove prices down below expectations.

Advanced Energy posts $10.5M quarterly profit

FORT COLLINS — Robust revenue drove a $10.5 million quarterly profit for Advanced Energy Industries Inc. (Nasdaq: AEIS), the Fort Collins-based power-supply company reported in its recent earnings report. Advanced Energy reported fourth-quarter revenue of $338.3 million, up from $154.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Net income totaled $10.3 million, compared with $19.4 million in the comparable period the previous year. The profit represented 27 cents per diluted share, down from 50 cents per diluted share in the fourth quarter of 2018. For the year, Advanced Energy recorded revenue of $788.9 million, compared with $718.9 million in 2018, an increase of 9.7 percent. Net income from continuing operations for 2019 totaled $65 million, or $1.47 per diluted share, compared with $147.1 million, or $3.74 per diluted share, in 2018.

AeroGrow posts record  Q3 sales

BOULDER — AeroGrow International Inc. (OTCQB:AERO), a Boulder-based manufacturer and distributor of indoor-gardening systems, posted net revenue of $18.5 million in the third quarter of the fiscal year. That represents a 43 percent increase from the same period last year and a quarterly record for the firm. The company turned a roughly $535,000 loss in the third quarter last year into a $1.2 million profit during the most recent quarter, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Ball Q4 earnings beat estimate, revenues miss mark

BROOMFIELD — Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL), a Broomfield-based metal-packaging manufacturer with a major aerospace division, posted fourth-quarter 2019 adjusted earnings of 71 cents, which beat Wall Street estimates of 68 cents and improved nearly 30 percent over the same period in 2018. Full fiscal-year earnings per share were $2.53, up 15 percent over the prior year. While earnings were higher than expected, Ball’s fourth-quarter revenues of about $2.7 billion were slightly off from the fourth-quarter 2018 figure of $2.8 billion and Zachs Consensus Estimate of nearly $2.9 billion.

Encision grows profits after summer layoffs

BOULDER — Encision Inc. (PK: ECIA) turned a profit in the previous quarter, months after it laid off four employees over the summer. The Boulder surgical equipment company posted a $70,000 profit after $2.04 million in revenue from October to December 2019, according to its quarterly earnings report. That beats the company’s $84,000 loss during the same period in 2018. Encision laid off four employees in August, bringing its total there to 27. CEO Greg Trudel said at the time that the U.S.-China trade war raised prices for steel and other raw materials, cutting into the company’s finances. The company posted a $30,000 profit on $1.92 million in revenue in the third calendar quarter of 2019, which followed the layoffs and cost-cutting efforts.

Woodward beats earning  estimates

FORT COLLINS — Woodward Inc. (Nasdaq: WWD) beat Wall Street revenue estimates in the previous quarter, as it prepares for a merger with Hexcel Inc. (NYSE: HXL) valued at more than $6 billion. Fort Collins-based Woodward reported $720.46 million in revenue for the quarter between October and December, a year-over-year increase of 10.3 percent and beating Wall Street estimates by $48 million, according to Seeking Alpha consensus estimates. Its non-Generally Accepted Accounting Principles earnings per share figure was $1.10 for the quarter, which beat estimates by 7 cents. Woodward CEO Tom Gendron said the quarter was stronger than expected, even though much of the aerospace industry is in a holding pattern due to The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) grounding of its troubled 737 MAX commercial jets.