In a regional economy still hunting for firmer ground, let's take the temperature of the corporate health here by vetting the latest quarterly performance of some major area companies.
With a few exceptions, the trend is up, with higher revenues and earnings. But let's peek behind these numbers to see what's making each of these businesses tick lately:
• Raymond James Financial: Thanks to its Morgan Keegan deal, the market value of the St. Petersburg-based investment firm broke out of Tampa Bay's pack of top public corporations. On Monday, the company's market value topped $6 billion, more than $1 billion bigger than that of any other public corporation in the metro area. At subsidiary Raymond James Bank, some of the parcels of commercial loans it shares with other lenders are not doing so well.
• Bloomin' Brands: The Tampa restaurant company says its Bonefish Grill chain is its "domestic development priority" — in part, because it is the only one among its top brands to slip. Revenues rose for Outback, Carrabba's and Fleming's in the quarter.
• MarineMax: After it nearly shipwrecked in the recession, the Clearwater boat retailer, the country's largest, is enjoying a resurgence aided by headlines such as this one in USA Today: "Boats ride a rising tide of popularity." But the company's biggest lift came from, of all places, the Deepwater Horizon accident in the gulf. This quarter, MarineMax recovered $7 million for damages incurred during the BP oil spill. And it has more legal claims pending.
• HSN: It's a good quarter when online sales help quarterly net income soar 41 percent. In St. Petersburg, CEO Mindy Grossman says digital sales (helped by a relaunch of its digital platform) increased 10 percent and are "moving closer" to making up half of the company's business.
• TECO Energy: The Tampa power company sold TECO Guatemala and more recently bought New Mexico Gas. Still, earnings and revenues fell. CEO John Ramil says TECO wants to focus on its electric and gas utilities, so if a decent offer should arise for its TECO Coal business, a deal might be struck.
• Kforce: In the wake of a strong quarter, CEO David Dunkel again stresses that companies will continue to rely more on temporary staffing services to fill jobs once considered full-time positions.
• Sykes Enterprises: The company expects to add 6,000 call center positions in 2013 but trim elsewhere to end up with a net gain of 1,000 seats for the year. CEO Chuck Sykes celebrates his ninth anniversary this month as head of the $1 billion-plus call center company, which was founded in Charlotte, N.C., and relocated to Tampa in 1993.
• Publix Super Markets: Florida's biggest grocery chain, based in Lakeland, is private in that its stock can be owned only by its employees. But its size and leadership in all of Florida's markets bear attention. Perhaps a Forbes magazine article says it best this month: "As best we can tell, Publix is the most profitable grocery chain in the nation." Enough said.
• Cott Corp.: The company with Tampa and Toronto headquarters got walloped with lower sales and profits due, in part, to the growing backlash against one of its main products — "CSDs" or carbonated soft drinks. Rising anti-obesity fervor will remain a challenge to Cott.
Robert Trigaux can be reached at [email protected]