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Robert Trigaux

Mad Money's Jim Cramer gives his stock blessing to Jabil Circuit after strong performance


A 5-year look at Jabil Circuit's stock performance. Quarterly earnings rose 76 percent.

jimcramerap.jpgWake up and good morning. One of the greatest performing stocks of our era... that you've never heard of...

With those words, CNBC Mad Money's colorful stock commentator Jim Cramer capped off an impressive week for St. Petersburg electronics design/manufacturer Jabil Circuit. The company, with more than 100,000 employees, started the week with another strong earnings report. Jabil CEO Tim Main was interviewed Wednesday (watch the video) by Cramer with Cramer following up with The Street interview in which he could not gush enough about Jabil's prospects. He called Jabil a "good Foxconn" -- a reference to Jabil making key parts for juggernaut Apple (without Foxconn's bad worker reputation in China) and said Jabil is "a stock you buy and put away" for the long term. Watch The Street video interview with Cramer. …

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Rays near bottom of MLB barrel in Forbes annual ranking of franchise values and growth



The Tampa Bay Rays 2011 late season comeback -- one for the history books -- to get into the playoffs was highlighted by Evan Longoria's walkoff home run in late September. The Rays beat the Yankees 8-7, coming back from a 7-0 deficit, and earned a playoff spot. (Photo: Tampa Bay Times). Heady stuff! But it did not help the Rays' franchise value.

Wake up and good morning. Ooof. The Tampa Bay Rays may be shooting with complete confidence for this year's playoffs and even the World Series. But it's a good thing the Rays don't have to compete in the standings off the field when it comes to franchise value and its growth in the past year.

According to the new annual ranking of Major League Baseball franchise value by Forbes, the Rays are one of just two MLB franchises that saw a decline in the team's value in the past year. (The New York Mets are the other.) …

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To fight tax refund fraud, IRS may launch pilot program to share information in Tampa


Kelly Curtis, widow of a slain Tampa police officer and the mother of four sons, was a victim of tax refund fraud and identity theft. Photo: Tampa Bay Times' Edmund D. Fountain, 2010.

Wake up and good morning. Let's follow up on yesterday's blog posting about the Senate subcommittee hearing on tax refund fraud and identity theft because there is some news to share. A senior IRS official testified the federal tax agency is considering a pilot program in Tampa to share more information with the police.

"We are limited in what we can supply to local law enforcement," said Steven Miller, deputy IRS commissioner for services and enforcement." But under this program, fraudulent tax information could be shared with the local police with the permission of the victimized taxpayer. No date has been set for the Tampa pilot program, Reuters reports here. …

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Tampa detective testifies on rampant tax fraud, identity theft in Capitol Hill hearing this morning

billnelsonap.jpgWake up and good morning. Tampa police criminal intelligence bureau detective Sal Augeri is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill this morning in a hearing of the Senate Finance subcommittee on the difficulties of investigating tax fraud and identity theft.

This is the second hearing since May 2011 by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., (AP photo, left) on the topic of identity theft and tax fraud. Since 2008, the IRS has identified 470,000 cases of identity theft affecting 390,000 taxpayers. "While the IRS claims it has stopped over $1 billion in fraudulent refund claims," Nelson stated, "there is no reliable estimate of how much it has disbursed to criminals, scam artists and fraudsters."

But look at the trend line:

In 2008, there were 51,702 incidents of tax-related identity fraud;

In 2009, that number rose to 169,087.

And in 2010, that number again skyrocketed to 248,357. …

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Odyssey Marine faces potential domino effect of multiple countries making claims on treasure

spanishcoinsodysseymarineap.jpg AP photo

Wake up and good morning. It's beginning to look like the real underseas treasure hunters are lawyers -- not companies like Tampa's Odyssey Marine Exploration. The AP reports that Spain, which has long hounded Odyssey Marine to return the mother lode find of 600,000 coins from the 200-year-old shipwreck frigate Nuestro Senora de la Mercedes, is asking a judge to force the company to hand over the last of the treasure.

Spanish military planes last moth flew home the bulk of the coins but Spain now wants the remaining artifacts Odyssey left in Gibraltar when it flew the coins to the United States in 2007.

So this is just one of those "what the explorers find the lawyers take away" stories, right?

Now comes Peru making claims that Spain is the culprit because it stole Peruvian gold to make the coins, minted in Lima (Peru) in the first place. …

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Closer look at Florida job loss, creation shows Gov. Scott's success claims overblown


A January 2012 job fair in downtown St. Petersburg drew 3,000 people. Photo: Melissa Lyttle, Tampa Bay Times

Wake up and good morning. On its surface, it's great news that Florida's unemployment rate in January (the news was released by the state Tuesday) dropped to 9.6 percent from 9.9 percent in December. That momentum, though, was muted in the same report saying Florida had lost -- not gained -- 38,600 jobs in January. That's more jobs lost than in any other state in January and more than four times the 9,000 jobs lost in Pennsylvania, the next state after Florida with the greatest loss of jobs.

Looking at the longer run, of course, Florida's economy is clearly improving amid such momentary blips. A key question is: How is Florida doing versus the other states in this country where the national jobless rate is 8.3 percent? Some observations:

* 45 states and Washington, DC, saw their jobless rates drop in January. Four states had no change and New York saw its rate increase.

* At 12.7 percent, Nevada still has the nation's highest unemployment rate, followed by California and Rhode Island (both at 10.9 percent) and, curiously, North Carolina at 10.2 percent. …

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Reimagining Temple Terrace's look and financial future in a post-housing bubble economy


Wake up and good morning. In the wake of this country's (and especially this state's) burst housing bubble and disastrous economic hit, this is the type of rethinking that should be going on. The scene above is a fresh look (dubbed Visible Weather) at what the future of Temple Terrace, the 22,000-population city on Tampa's northeast corner, could look like, according to architects Michael Bell (a Columbia University professor) and Eunjeong Seong.

Bell's vision of Tempe Terrace is one of five re-envisioned communities on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in a special exhibit called Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream. Here's the link to the MOMA exhibit which runs until July 30. It's an exploration of new architectural possibilities for cities and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent foreclosure crisis. …

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Spring break economy: Florida's still top spot for students on 2012 break despite gas prices


Spring break revelers in Panama City on Florida's Panhandle. In Canada the Toronto Star named Panama City one of the ten "trashiest" places to party for spring break in 2012. AP photo

Wake up and good morning. Despite $3.75-a-gallon gas, higher air fares and a still sluggish economy, Florida looks poised to enjoy a plentiful turnout of spring breakers. The online travel service Orbitz says four Florida destinations rank among the top 10 for spring break this year, with Orlando at No. 1 and Tampa Bay at No. 9.

"Even with the relatively mild winter, Americans are still craving the sun and warm weather for spring break,"Orbitz says. In addition to top spot Orlando, the other three Florida destinations in the spring break top 10 are No. 4 Fort Lauderdale, No. 8 Fort Myers and No. 9 Tampa Bay. The other spots  rounding out the top 10 are Np. 2 Las Vegas, No. 3 New York, No. 5 Cancun, No. 6 Los Angeles, No. 7 Phoenix and No. 10 Denver. Here's the Orbitz rankings showing average airfares to these destinations and how much (in general) these airline tickets have increased since last year. …

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Second of $1,000 micro grants from Awesome Tampa Bay goes to writing teacher for kids in jail

birdhousebuyingclubawesometampabaygrant.jpgWake up and good morning. Tampa Bay's recently assembled provider of $1,000 micro grants -- Awesome Tampa Bay --  recently picked its second recipient from among numerous applicants. The winner is Sylvia Albritton, who teaches youth ages 14 to 18 at the Falkenburg Jail in Hillsborough County in a writing program that Albritton says helps her students confront their own actions.

"I've learned that our youth oftentimes don't have an outlet for expression. And I think it helps them to write," she said in a story published this week on the 83degrees web site (whose publisher, Diane Egner, is one of the trustees funding these projects). Albritton will use the $1,000 micro grant to create abound book of her students' writing.

Awesome Tampa Bay's first micro grant, issued at the end of last year, went to Ryan Iacovacci -- chosen among 120 applications -- and his Birdhouse Buying Club (photo, left) to move local farm produce into the homes of low income homes in the Sulphur Springs area. Read more in this Tampa Bay Times story. …

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In latest tally, 39 banks based in Florida receive weakest ratings from Bauer Financial


The Pinellas Park branch of First Home Bank of Seminole, one of the few "zero star" rated banks remaining in the Tampa Bay metro area.

Wake up and good morning. Another sign of our slowly improving economy? The good news is that only 39 Florida-based banks were rated "zero star" or the weakest ranking in Bauer Financial's quarterly assessment of the health of the banking industry. The 39 zero stars are based on Dec. 31, 2011 data only recently made available. In recent years, the number of Florida's zero star banks typically ran in the mid 40s, so the decline is evidence that some zero star banks finally failed and were sold off to healthier institutions or -- the less common scenario -- a few were able to recover and improve their ratings. Bauer rates banks from zero (worst) to five (best) stars.

The better news of the Tampa Bay economy is that very few of the state's most troubled banks are in this metro area. There are none, for example, in Tampa or St. Petersburg or Clearwater. The remaining zero star banks in this metro area are Heritage Bank of Florida in Lutz and First Home Bank in Seminole. …

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Tampa's John Sykes picks off weaker competition in quest to build his JHS Capital brokerage


Tampa entrepreneur and philanthropist John Sykes in front of a Gulfstream jet at his JHS hangar in Tampa. Photo: Stephen J. Coddington, Tampa Bay Times

Wake up and good morning. Wealthy entrepreneur John Sykes' radar appears to be working well as he continues his latest corporate-building exercise in growing his young JHS Capital Advisors into a bigger financial brokerage. Sykes, you may recall, leveraged his wealth in creating Tampa call center business Sykes Enterprises (now run by son Chuck) and bought control of Tampa brokerage GunnAllen Financial. When regulatory problems emerged from GunnAllen's past, Sykes broke off his ties to the firm and created his own brokerage -- JHS Capital -- essentially from scratch.

That's why the recent deal by Sykes and JHS to buy the retail brokerage business from of Oregon-based Paulson Investment Co. is a big gulp. JHS Capital had a fledgling national network of 100 advisers handling $2 billion in assets. Adding Paulson's 75 advisers and their $1.1 billion is a 50 percent bump in assets and 75 percent gain in advisers. Read the JHS press release. …

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Three Tampa Bay companies rank among Fortune's 'world's most admired companies'


Tech Data Corp. CEO Bob Dutkowsky. (Photo, Joseph Garnett, Tampa Bay Times)

raymondjamespaulreillycourtesyrjf.gifWake up and good morning. A show of corporate strength goes to the Tampa Bay area in the latest Fortune magazine ranking of the world's most admired companies. Of ten Florida companies making the list, three bay area businesses (four including Lakeland's Publix Super Markets) are named: Clearwater's Tech Data Corp., an IT distributor and this area's largest public company by revenues; St. Petersburg's Raymond James Financial, a regional investment firm (CEO Paul Reilly, right) that's in the midst of absorbing its biggest ever acquisition of the Morgan Keegan brokerage; and St. Petersburg electronics manufacturer jabiltimmainjohnpendygraft.jpgJabil Circuit, which by geographic reach is this area's biggest international player with assembly and design plants across the world. (Jabil CEO Tim Main, left: photo by John Pendygraft, Tampa Bay Times). Congratulations to these firms.

One Tampa company ranked that did not make the most admired cut for its industry: WellCare Health Plans.

The companies ranked by Fortune are given competitiveness points in nine categories, from innovation, to management quality to global competitiveness. …

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