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After a few tough years, the picture brightens

Rochester Business Journal
July 29, 2011

Increases in staff, earnings, sales and return to shareholders are common themes among this year's RBJ 75.

The area's leading companies and non-profit organizations generally held a steady course through a severe recession after the economy nearly melted down in autumn 2008, and that trend continued in 2010 as the recovery took hold.

While the nation's unemployment rate remains above 9 percent and news of layoffs at major corporations is not uncommon, the 75 leading companies and organizations in the Rochester area have been adding employees, not shedding them. As a group, they employed 111,049 people this spring, up from 109,435 a year earlier-a gain of 1,614 or 1.5 percent.

The area's top non-profit organizations employ 60,512, up 126 or 0.2 percent from 60,386 in 2010.
 
The public and private companies that make up the rest of the RBJ 75 employ 50,537 people, up 1,488 or 3 percent from 49,049 the year before.
 
Total non-farm employment in the Rochester area was up slightly during 2010 to an annual average of 503,200-an increase of 600 or 0.1 percent from the annual average of 2009. However, that was far from enough to offset the decline of 13,700 jobs from 2008 to 2009. And compared with the annual average for 2007, this area's total non-farm employment last year was down 11,700 positions or 2.3 percent.
 
Wegmans Food Markets Inc., the No. 1 private company, also ranked first in workforce growth among the 25 firms on that list. For the third straight year, Paychex Inc. added the most jobs among the public companies of the RBJ 75. But after two years at the top of the public company list, which is ranked by net income, the Penfield firm slipped to second behind Xerox Corp.
 
Though a number of firms posted red ink, aggregate 2010 profits of the publicly held firms soared by comparison with 2009. Aggregate sales also rose in 2010.

Employment
Among the area's top companies and non-profits, 50 reported increases in year-over-year employment, while 23 cited decreases and two were flat.
 
The University of Rochester was the largest employer among non-profits-as well as the largest for the RBJ 75 as a whole-again this year, adding 377 jobs to increase its total employment to 19,987, up from 19,610 last year.
 
The largest employment increase in the non-profit segment came from Lakeside Health Systems, whose workforce grew 43.9 percent to 747, up from 519. The biggest drop was reported by the Center for Disability Rights, which saw a 54.9 percent drop in year-over-year employment from 1,632 to 736.
 
As with the non-profits, the employment leader among the private companies remained unchanged. Wegmans topped the list with 14,294 workers, up 653, or 4.8 percent, from last year's employment of 13,641.
 
The Pike Co. Inc. posted the biggest percentage increase, growing its work force by 77 people to 402 from 325 a year ago, up 23.7 percent. LiDestri Foods Inc. was close behind with a 22.7 percent increase, to 448 workers from 365 last year.
 
The biggest drop in employment among the private companies was reported by Nixon Peabody LLP, which shed 50 workers, or 13.8 percent of its workforce, declining from 362 to 312 workers.
 
Paychex was the job-gain leader among the public companies, adding 146 local staffers, or 4.3 percent. The company employed 3,577 workers this year, up from 3,431 last year.
 
The Penfield firm was one of 17 public companies that added jobs, while seven reported employment losses and one was flat for the year.
 
The biggest public company employment increase on a percentage basis was reported by NaturalNano Inc., which added two employees to its previous workforce of one-a 200 percent gain.
 
Xerox reported the biggest employment loss among public firms with its workforce shrinking by 342 people, or 4.9 percent, to 6,672 workers versus 7,014 last year.

Earnings

In contrast to 2009, more public companies reported a profit versus a net loss in 2010. Thirteen companies posted net income in 2010, while 12 reported net losses. That compares to 11 reporting net income in 2009 and 14 posting net losses.
 
Eleven of the firms on the list reported net income for both years; while 12 firms reported net losses for both years. Among the latter is Eastman Kodak Co., which lost $687 million in 2010, although its loss from continuing operations was considerably less, $58 million.
 
Companies that went from a net loss in 2009 to a profit in 2010 are Constellation Brands Inc. and Veramark Technologies Inc.
 
On a percentage basis, FSB Community Bankshares Inc. had the biggest gain in net income, 223.5 percent. Seneca Foods Inc. was the only other public company to post a triple-digit earnings increase.
 
As a group, the publicly held firms' net income soared compared with 2009. Constellation Brands Inc. swung from a $301 million loss to a $99.3 million profit and GateHouse Media Inc. slashed its red ink by more than $500 million, among other factors.

Return to shareholders

For the second year in a row, the majority of public companies in the RBJ 75 reported positive year-over-year returns to shareholders. By contrast, only two RBJ 75 stocks ended the year in positive territory in 2008.
 
The best one-year performance was turned in by Torvec Inc., with a 143.4 percent return to shareholders. By contrast, its five- and 10-year returns were negative-minus 2.2 percent and minus 11 percent, respectively. IEC Electronics Corp. had the best annualized five-year performance, up 65 percent, and closely trailed Monro Muffler Brake Inc. for 10-year honors.
 
NaturalNano Inc. had the biggest one-year decline, 79.3 percent.
 
The companies that had positive returns for one-, five- and 10-year periods are: Financial Institutions Inc.; Monro Muffler; IEC Electronics; Home Properties Inc.; Seneca Foods; and Transcat Inc. 

Sales

Many of the public companies on the list struggled with sales in 2010, though a majority had increases. Fourteen reported higher sales, 10 reported declines and one-Seneca Foods-reported a decline so small that last year's sales could be regarded as flat.
 
One firm-Torvec, a development-stage company-had no sales in 2010, while Arista Power Inc. reported $493,947 in revenue compared with none the year before.
 
NaturalNano reported the biggest increase in sales at 284.9 percent, logging a total of $311,915-a fraction of the sales reported by most of its RBJ 75 peers.
 
After NaturalNano came IEC and Xerox. IEC had a 42.6 percent increase in sales to $96.7 million, while Xerox sales grew 42.5 percent to $21.6 billion, reflecting its acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services Inc. The document company was No. 1 in sales on a dollar basis.
 
Graham Corp. reported the biggest decrease in sales, falling 38.5 percent year-over-year to $62.2 million.
 
Aggregate sales rose in 2010, climbing 14.4 percent to $44.9 billion from $39.2 billion the year before.

Looking ahead
Despite the uncertain economy, many RBJ 75 companies are proceeding with expansion plans.
 
Paetec Holding Corp. has committed to a new headquarters at the Midtown Plaza site downtown, with construction to begin after the current demolition work is completed.
 
LiDestri is adding to its workforce. The company plans to add 150 jobs to its local sauce-making operations. Weg-mans, meanwhile, continues to expand its geographic footprint with new stores in Maryland and its first store in Massachusetts.
 
Manning & Napier recently disclosed plans to go public, filing papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise up to $250 million in an initial public offering.
 
Kodak will continue to focus on four core growth initiatives, Chairman and CEO Antonio Perez said earlier this year. They are consumer inkjet, commercial inkjet, packaging solutions, and work-flow software and services. He added that Kodak would aggressively address business challenges the company faced in 2010.
 
For Xerox, the top goal is applying a services-led, technology-driven strategy, Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns has said. The company said it is seeing success from its multibillion-dollar acquisition of ACS. Locally, however, Xerox announced that 250 jobs in Webster would be transferred to HCL Technologies Ltd., an Indian company, as Xerox outsources some of its engineering functions.

7/29/11 (c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail service@rbj.net.


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