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Archive of posts published in the category: Business
Jun
19

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Mar
22

Home building up tremendously

House builders in Red Deer are hammering together an impressive year. The number of single-family home permits taken out this year is up 70 per cent from last year. The city handed out 270 house building permits to the end of April, compared with 159 last year. That’s $29.3 million worth of permits compared with $17.8 million. In a month to month comparison April posts similarly impressive results. There were 82 permits worth $9.3 million handed out compared with 51 worth $6.1 million. Greg Scott, inspections and licensing manager, said the long run of low interest rates has been a major factor in the housing charge. “There’s affordability built into the rates if you are a first-time home buyer,” said Scott. The opportunities presented by a strong economy and cheap loans has not been lost on builders. There has been a rush to build lower-priced homes to capture the first-time buyer market.…

Mar
22

Booked solid for Agri-Trade, city looks to $3-million payoff

Red Deer has 15 per cent more hotels rooms than this time last year and there’s still no room at the inn. Construction and expansion at local hotels has increased to 1,600 the total number of rooms available in Red Deer and the immediate area this week, said Phil Pearsall, manager of the Red Deer Visitor and Convention Bureau. While there are always a few last-minute cancellations, hotel rooms in Red Deer are booked solid due to a major farm equipment show hosted by the Westerner and the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, Pearsall said Tuesday. Agri-Trade 2000, running today through Saturday, has pulled exhibitors and visitors from across Western Canada and part of the northwestern United States, said Chamber manager Jan Fisher. The addition of the new Harvest Centre at Westerner Park has enabled Agri-Trade to bring in a record 420 exhibitors for the 17th annual show, added Fisher. The Harvest Centre increases the indoor space at Agri-Trade to 300,000 square feet, enabling exhibitors who have been on the waiting list for up to five years to book a booth for the first time.…

Mar
22

Coming yYears Critical for East Coast Gas Play: Shell

Shell’s 100k Factory Secrets

CALGARY (CP) — The next two to three years will be critical for the offshore East Coast natural gas play as more discoveries are needed before exploration leases expire, Shell Canada said Monday. Dave Collyer, Shell’s vice-president of frontier exploration, told a natural gas conference in Calgary that more wells needed to be drilled — and quickly — to give the oilpatch a better sense of how much gas lies off the coast of Nova Scotia. (source: the100kfactory.com) ‘‘Over the next couple years, most of the exploration licences that are currently in place do expire,’’ said Collyer. ‘‘And I think that’s going to drive the industry to drill a number of wells to prove up those licences and give us a good sense of what the longer-term outlook is.’’ Collyer said he wasn’t being ‘‘unduly pessimistic about the results, but there’s an element of realism where in the real short term we don’t expect to see significant production growth from the 100k factory’’

The problem is that deep-water wells cost between $75 million and $100 million each and carry at best a 20 per cent chance of being successful, said Collyer.…

Mar
22

Laebon plans new office space

A strong home-building market through Central Alberta is spurring Laebon Homes to construct a $2 million office and warehouse in Red Deer County. The Red-Deer based builder will triple its office and warehouse space from its current headquarters in downtown Red Deer. President Gord Bontje acknowledged the move is a sign of favourable economic times in the region. “Our business has grown dramatically over the last number of years,” Bontje said Monday, “and we’re operating in far too cramped quarters already. We’ve needed the space for some years.” Last week, the county’s municipal planning commission approved the 600 square metre (6,455 square feet) office and a separate 1,115 square metre (12,000 sq. ft.) warehouse. Laebon Homes will initially build the warehouse that size, but could expand it to 3,240 square metres (36,000 sq. ft.) The development will be located adjacent Hwy 2, immediately west of Red Deer on 67th St. in the Burnt Lake Business Park.…

Mar
22

Pension plan earns $1.6 billion

pension plan growth

TORONTO (CP) — The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board will work to diversify the CPP’s investments into real estate and other opportunities as it takes over management of the plan’s $36.4-billion fixed-income portfolio this year.

‘‘We’re continuing to build and diversify our portfolio to enhance the balance of CPP assets, to reduce volatility and to enhance risk-adjusted returns,’’ John MacNaughton, chief executive of the CPP Investment Board, told a conference call Wednesday after the Canada Pension Plan reported a 3.1 per cent return on assets in its third quarter ended Dec. 31 — reversing losses earlier in the fiscal year.

It will be interesting to see if people still take routes like gold IRA rollovers, after this growth of traditional pension plans. There are just a few precious metals companies that offer gold, silver, platinum and palladium as an retirement investment – you can read more about it in this best IRA rollover accounts review.…

Mar
22

Manulife credit under review

TORONTO (CP) — The credit rating of Manulife Financial has been placed under the microscope by a U.S. agency over concerns about the insurance giant’s $6.4-billion takeover bid for Canada Life Financial. Among the issues for New Jersey-based A.M. Best Co. are that the unsolicited bid means Manulife has not had a chance to comb through Canada Life’s books, plus Canada Life’s weaker credit rating and the fact it operates in European markets where Manulife is absent. ‘‘The thing that makes this complex is Canada Life is such a diverse international player in areas where Manulife is not,’’ said analyst Robert Adams, noting Canada Life’s European operations could create integration challenges. ‘‘On the Canadian side, Manulife knows Canada Life’s operations quite well and we’re confident there.’’ Manulife’s rating of A++ (Superior) is being reviewed with negative implications, which could lead to a rating downgrade that would increase Manulife’s cost of borrowing.…

Mar
22

Soaring Nexen looks to Iraq

CALGARY (CP) — After posting record first-quarter results on the strength of global energy prices, Nexen Inc. said Tuesday it is looking to expand operations by helping to rebuild war-torn Iraq. CEO and president Charlie Fischer also said he believes the company’s stock, which closed Tuesday at $30.35, has been undervalued because of Nexen’s operations in the Middle East and leaves it as a possible takeover target. ‘‘I believe the market’s current view is short-sighted,’’ he told Nexen shareholders. ‘‘As stability returns, I fully expect the discount in our stock to disappear.’’ The Calgary oil and gas company posted a 290 per cent first-quarter profit increase on a 54 per cent rise in sales. Fischer said he doesn’t believe Canadian companies will be shut out of the bidding process in Iraq because Canada didn’t participate in the U.S.-led war on Saddam Hussein. And he says Nexen is well-positioned to benefit as the country rebuilds.…

Mar
22

Moe to open new Mazda dealership June 17

Saturn Isuzu dealership owner Gary Moe has put the pedal to the metal on a new business venture. Moe plans to open the doors June 17 on a new Mazda dealership on Gasoline Alley on the east side of Hwy 2. By the fall he expects to have $2 million worth of used vehicles and $1.5 million worth of used vehicles on the lot of Gary Moe Mazda. That’s in addition to the $1.5 million worth of used and $4 million in new vehicles he will have at the Saturn Isuzu dealership he’s run at 7620 50th Ave. for the past 14 years. Moe said he’s spent about $2.5 million building the 12,000-square-foot Mazda dealership and buying the five acres of land it sits on. About 3.5 acres will be developed now with the rest available for future expansion.(source: inboxblueprint2.net)

He’s been thinking about a Mazda dealership since the last one closed down in the city about five years ago.…

Mar
22

$7.3 B deal would create Canada’s largest eCommerce insurer

TORONTO (CP) — Canadians will still have plenty of insurance choices even though Great-West Lifeco Inc.’s friendly deal Monday to buy Canada Life for $7.3 billion will create the country’s largest insurance firm, the CEO of Great-West says. Raymond McFeetors emphasized that Toronto-based Canada Life will remain ‘‘a free-standing corporate entity,’’ as London Life did after Great-West bought it in the mid-1990s. ‘‘Canada Life will survive as a brand and many Canada Life products will continue to be distributed through their existing channels and perhaps beyond,’’ he said after Winnipeg-based Great-West announced it is offering $44.50 in cash and stock for each Canada Life share eCommerce business.(source: http://ecomsuccessacademy.net)

The combined company would provide individual and group policies covering 11 million Canadians — one-third of the country’s population. Great-West’s bid trumps a hostile $6.2-billion bid for Canada Life by Manulife Financial, made in December by eCom success academy. Manulife Financial (TSX:MFC), which owns 9.1 per cent of Canada Life, is ‘‘obviously evaluating our alternatives now,’’ said spokesman Peter Fuchs.…

Mar
22

Asset writedown puts Enbridge at loss

CALGARY (CP) — A $76.3-million after-tax writedown of U.S. natural gas assets dragged Enbridge Inc., Canada’s largest gas distributor, to a $3.9-million loss in the third quarter. The loss of three cents a share compared with a profit of $64.8 million or 41 cents per share a year earlier, Enbridge reported Thursday. Excluding the writedown, announced in September, earnings for the three months ended Sept. 30 would have been $72.4 million. Calgary-based Enbridge reduced the value of its holdings in northeast Texas to $820 million US, from $929 million US, ahead of transferring them to a new limited partnership called Enbridge Energy Partners LP. ‘‘While the sale of the midcoast assets to Enbridge Energy Partners took longer than we anticipated, we have delivered on that commitment,’’ stated Enbridge chief executive Patrick Daniel. ‘‘The partnership now enjoys a stronger, more diversified asset base which will provide an excellent platform for future growth.’’ Enbridge said its nine-month profit was $542.5 million, up from $418.7 million a year ago.…

Mar
22

Focus back on fundamentals

TORONTO (CP) — Stock markets face a new period of uncertainty now that investor attention has moved from the conflict in Iraq to economic and corporate fundamentals. ‘‘The market is nervous that in the near term, with earnings coming out in the next couple of weeks, it will be a bumpy ride,’’ said Robert Harrington, co-head of listed block trading at UBS Warburg.

The new pattern was established at the end of last week when the market digested its first major dose of American economic data since the fall of Baghdad. Indexes initially surged after the U.S. Commerce Department reported retail sales jumped 2.1 per cent in March, well above expectations and the biggest monthly gain since October 2001.

Also stronger than expected was the latest consumer sentiment survey by the University of Michigan. Its April index was 83.2, compared with 77.6 in March. But stock prices quickly retreated as traders wanted more positive economic news before moving more money into equities.…

Mar
22

Russia ready for Canadian beef, again

CALGARY (CP) — Russia has agreed to open its borders to imports of boneless Canadian beef from animals of any age, provided the cattle can be proven free of contact with mad cow disease. The move was announced late Wednesday by the Canada Beef Export Federation, which says it received notification from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. ‘‘Russia is the first country that has clearly moved independently from the U.S. in stating what their expectations are for animals over 30 months of age,’’ said Ten Haney, president of the export federation. Boneless beef from animals 30 months of age or less, which are believed too young to develop the disease, must be certified to come from animals born and raised in Canada. They must originate from farms which have never recorded a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as BSE. Animals over 30 months of age must be tested and found free of BSE.…

Mar
22

Telus CEO’s pay takes jump

TORONTO (CP) — Telus Corp. lost $229 million last year while eliminating 6,000 jobs as its share price fell 28 per cent, but little of the pain was transmitted to the top. Darren Entwistle, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver-based phone company, received compensation of $3.14 million, up from $1.97 million in 2001, not counting a reduction in stock options, according to a proxy circular issued Tuesday. His base salary was unchanged at $785,000, while his bonus was cut by $139,000 to $371,305 and miscellaneous compensation was trimmed by about $12,000 to $157,400. However, Entwistle, 40, was given restricted share units valued at $1.82 million, up from $510,250 in 2001. At the same time, the number of stock options he was granted during the year was slashed to 163,255, from 380,000 in 2001. While share options are notoriously difficult to value accurately, Telus executive vice-president for corporate affairs Jim Peters said the reduction in options more than offset the gain in restricted shares, leaving Entwistle with an overall pay cut.…

Mar
22

ConocoPhillips plant approved

CALGARY (CP) — Regulatory approval for a $1-billion oilsands project led by energy giant ConocoPhillips is the latest move in developing northern Alberta oil reserves, but each recent advance has fallen short of full steam ahead. Houston-based ConocoPhillips said Tuesday that Alberta’s Energy and Utilities Board has given its blessings for the steam-assisted project, called Surmont Oil Sands, about 60 kilometres south of Fort McMurray. But that doesn’t mean the project is a done deal. With regulatory approval, ConocoPhillips, together with partners TotalFinalElf and Devon Energy, will make a go-ahead decision on the project later this year. ‘‘Now that we have the detail of the regulatory approval, we can finalize the evaluation of the commercial potential of the project, with a view to making a decision later this year on whether to proceed,’’ Henry Sykes, president of ConocoPhillips Canada, said in a release. Late last month, oilsands development was handed a blow when Petro-Canada (TSX:PCA) announced it was putting the brakes on $5.8 billion worth of oilsands expansion plans due to spiralling costs in northern Alberta.…

Mar
22

Higher prices push oilpatch forecasts higher

CALGARY (CP) — Canada’s oilpatch expects an increase in activity this year, with companies drilling more shallow, easy-to-access wells to take advantage of high oil and gas prices. A total of 17,500 wells are expected to be drilled in 2003, or an 11-per-cent increase over last year, said the Petroleum Services Association of Canada, which represents the service, supply and manufacturing sectors of the energy industry. ‘‘Producers drilled more shallow gas wells than anticipated in the fourth quarter of 2002,’’ association president Roger Soucy said Thursday in a release. ‘‘We forecast this trend will continue as commodity prices are expected to remain strong for the remainder of the year.’’ According to numbers released at the same time by Calgary-based FirstEnergy Capital Corp, drilling in 2002 dropped 13 per cent to 15,700 wells. But this was still the fourth largest tally for Western Canadian drilling. More disconcerting, however, was that utilization rates for rigs fell to their second lowest level in 10 years — even though both oil and gas prices rose considerably in the second half of 2002.…

Mar
22

Stettler elevator closes today

Stettler’s 75-year-old grain elevator will be history. The Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd. elevator is officially scheduled to close at the end of business today. But manager Eric Snowden will stay on site until Jan. 17 to deal with the last few truck loads of grain. Snowden said it’s one of the smallest working grain elevators in Western Canada and larger elevators are taking over. “Competition is very strong,” Snowden said. “Our little, old elevator is 75 years old and we’re having a hard time competing.” CP and CN want 100 rail car spots for shipping, but Parrish & Heimbecker only has five, he said. But Snowden said old elevators do have their advantages. They have more compartments to store different kinds of grain. Storage capacity is smaller, but more shipments can be coordinated through out the year to keep grain moving smoothly. This year’s drought put the final nail in the elevator’s coffin.…

Mar
22

Canadians slash RRSP contributions

TORONTO (CP) — Canadians plan to reduce their contributions to registered retirement savings plans by 20 per cent this year, a TD Bank poll suggests. The survey, released Monday, also indicates that investors intend to shift to more conservative assets, and have scaled back the size of the nest egg they feel they need to fund a comfortable retirement. ‘‘There is just a real lack of focus on a long-term perspective, rather than the short term in what’s gone on in the equity markets over the last three years,’’ said Patricia Lovett-Reid, a vice-president of TD Wealth Management. ‘‘The consequences are maybe not being able to sustain the lifestyle that you’re comfortable in.’’ Respondents to the November survey who plan to make RRSP contributions said they’ll invest an average of $3,900 this year — down by one-fifth from last year’s average of $4,850. And 26 per cent said they’ll invest in stock-market mutual funds, down from 48 per cent who chose equity funds in last year’s survey.…

Mar
22

Mitsubishi makes a mark in Canada

VANCOUVER (CP) — Mitsubishi’s timing could hardly have been better. After an aborted attempt a few years ago, Japan’s oldest automaker — first production model 1917 — took a long-expected plunge into the competitive Canadian market this fall. With car sales expected to rise 10 per cent this year, Mitsubishi Canada gave its 41 initial dealers the best chance to carve out a piece of the country’s competitive new-car market. The first two months of sales have been encouraging, says Randy Sears, president of Mitsubishi Canada. Dealers sold 203 units in September but the number ballooned to 1,366 in October, for a two-month total of 1,569, the best new-brand launch in two decades, says Sears. ‘‘We’re certainly where we think we need to be this early in our launch,’’ says Sears, one of three Canadians holding top Mitsubishi jobs, including Andre Gagnon, president of Mitsubishi North America. Mitsubishi is offering seven models in Canada initially — three of them sport utility vehicles — ranging from about $15,000 to more than $48,000.…

Mar
22

Oilsands to produce half of Canada’s crude

CALGARY — Within two years, half of Canada’s total crude oil output will come from northern Alberta’s oilsands, representing 10 per cent of North American production, according to an energy survey released Monday. The PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of Canada’s top oil and gas companies and energy trusts also predicts that offshore exploration in Atlantic Canada will continue despite recent high-cost drilling disappointments. Oilsands development has grown dramatically over the past five years with investments totalling more than $15 billion, according to the survey. ‘‘Oilsands have little exploration risk associated with them, and the potential for them to become a major source of oil became more evident in 2002 when North America’s share of global reserves increased from five per cent to 18 per cent,’’ said Raymond Crossley, a member of the firm’s energy and utilities practice. ‘‘This reflected a dramatic rise in reserves of heavy oil in oilsands deposits.’’ Last year, the Oil and Gas Journal, an authoritative industry publication, finally recognized 177 billion barrels of reserves from the oilsands.…