PODM, FFGO, AXVC, ABVG, FSRT, IBCP
Our Stocks to Watch tomorrow include Podium Venture Group Inc. (OTC: PODM), Fortress Financial Group Inc. (OTC: FFGO), Axial Vector Energy Corp. (OTC: AXVC), ABV Gold Inc. (OTC: ABVG), FreeStar Technology Corp. (OTCBB: FSRT) and Independent Bank Corp. (NASDAQ: IBCP).
PODIUM VENTURE GROUP (OTC: PODM)
"Up 400.00% on Wednesday"
Podium Venture Group Inc. (www.podiumvg.com) is a holding company with holdings in wireless broadband and disaster recovery & business continuity. Coastal Broadband (www.coastalbb.com) is a subsidiary of Podium Venture Group and is a wireless broadband provider in Southern Georgia. Noh Limits Consulting (www.nohlimits.com) represents Podium Venture Groups holdings in the disaster recovery & business continuity markets.
July 23 -
Podium Venture Group Board of Directors Has Agreed to Acquire Capital Oil & Gas, Inc.
Podium Venture Group, Inc. (OTC: PODM), announced that its Board of Directors has approved the acquisition of Capital Oil & Gas, Inc. as a wholly owned subsidiary of Podium Venture Group.
Capital Oil & Gas operates retail gas stations with convenience stores under the Chevron brand; the company will have revenues in excess of $25,000,000 dollars per year.
"The company is extremely excited to complete this acquisition and will continue to add new locations on a regular basis; the company has already contracted additional locations that will add significant additional revenues and growth to our existing revenue stream," said Mr. Ariel Rodriguez, President & COO.
FORTRESS FINANCIAL GROUP INCORPORATED (OTC: FFGO)
"Up 100.00% on Wednesday"
Fortress Financial Group, Inc. was primarily engaged in the issuing and marketing of prepaid debit card and related payment solution activities. Through the closure of the Trinity Mercantile Finance Group and the Mortgage Bank acquisitions, Fortress Financial Group, Inc. is now expediting its plans to become a broadly based Consumer Finance Group. The "Mortgage and Consumer Lending Divisions" will comprise the vast majority of the Group's earnings in the immediate to medium term. The Company is utilizing its substantial Balance Sheet of circa US$500 million comprised of quoted and unquoted Gold Mining & Exploration stocks to aggressively fund a large number of acquisitions in the consumer financial services sector, initially focused in the Mortgage Lending and Banking sectors.
July 23 -
Fortress Financial Group, Inc. Announces Further Stock Repurchases
Company Confirms That the Company Has Repurchased Additional "Free Trading" Shares of Its Common Stock
Fortress Financial Group, Inc. (OTC: FFGO) confirms that the Company has repurchased additional amounts of its "free trading" shares of its Common Stock on July 21, 2008 and July 22, 2008.
The Company repurchased an additional amount of 1,000,000,000 shares of its "free trading" stock at a price of US$0.0001 per share on July 21, 2008 and on July 22, 2008, in the market. The Company will be instructing its Transfer Agent to cancel these shares of its Common Stock. This represents a further 3% reduction in the Company's shares of its outstanding Common Stock. These repurchases were settled in cash.
The Company's outstanding shares of Common Stock as at July 23, 2008 are now in the amount of 32,295,377,817. This includes all the restricted shares of the Company's Common Stock.
The Company had as at July 23, 2008, reduced its outstanding shares of Common Stock by an amount of 45.4% in the last month.
The Company will continue to repurchase "free trading" shares of its Common Stock today, being July 23, 2008, and will continue to do so thereafter.
The Company's Net Asset Value per Share as at July 23, 2008 is now in the amount of 1.53c per share of the Company's Common Stock.
The Company intends to continue its buyback of its shares of Common Stock and remains extremely committed to a vastly reduced number of its outstanding shares of Common Stock and a considerably diminished "free float."
The Company is filing a detailed Form 8-K with the SEC on Wednesday, July 23, 2008 in respect of the share buybacks on July 21, 2008 and on July 22, 2008 as well as setting out a very detailed explanation of its calculations in respect of its Net Asset per Share.
AXIAL VECTOR ENGINE CORPORATION (OTC: AXVC)
"Up 79.55% on Wednesday"
Axial Vector Energy Corp. is a global solutions provider that owns, develops and licenses revolutionary internal combustion engine and electric power generator technologies that have unlimited potential in military, industrial and commercial applications. AVEC and its partners are positioned to become unrivalled leaders in international engine and energy markets with technologies that produce more efficient, cost-effective, environmentally sensitive and versatile solutions for use in a wide variety of important applications around the world.
July 23 -
Axial Vector Energy Corp. Initiates Stock BuyBack Program
BuyBack Program of Five Million Common Stock Shares Ends August 31st
Axial Vector Energy Corporation (OTC: AXVC) ("AVEC") (FWB:BAE1) announced that the Board of Directors has authorized an investment to repurchase up to five million of its common stock shares as part of a new buyback program. The program commences today, July 23rd, 2008, and is expected to conclude on or before August 31st, 2008.
The timing and exact number of shares purchased will be at the Company’s discretion and will depend on market conditions. All repurchases, which are expected to be funded from the Company’s current cash and credit positions, may occur in open market, negotiated or block transactions. The Company does not intend to repurchase any shares from its management team or other insiders. This stock buyback program does not obligate the Company to acquire any specific number of shares and may be suspended or discontinued at any time.
ABV GOLD INCORPORATED (OTC: ABVG)
"Up 51.52% on Wednesday"
ABV Gold is a publicly traded, junior mining exploration company headquartered in Montreal, Canada. The company pursues the acquisition and development of mining properties known to contain significant mineral assets, principally uranium and or gold. For additional information, please visit the corporate Web site at www.abvgoldinc.com.
July 23 -
ABV Gold Inc. Announce Agreement to Acquire PharmaCom Biovet Inc.
Mr. Daniel Ryan, CEO of ABV Gold Inc. (OTC: ABVG), announced the company has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of PharmaCom BioVet Cancer Centers, LTD.
The due diligence for the transaction has been completed and we expect to close the transaction on July 31st. On closing of the transaction, Garry Berthold will take over as CEO of ABV Gold Inc. Board members will also be announced on July 31, 2008.
ABOUT PHARMACOM BIOVET CANCER CENTERS, LTD
PharmaCom BioVet Cancer Centers, LTD recognizes the demand as well as the current the lack of adequate cancer treatment options or facilities for animal lovers whose pets are suffering from lymphoma and other forms of cancer. Backed by an impressive group of renowned medical specialists in this field, along with a solid business management team, PharmaCom BioVet Cancer Centers, LTD is advancing an aggressive business model to establish a network of companion animal cancer treatment centers around the country.
For more information, visit http://pcbvcancercenters.com/Home_Page.html.
FREESTAR TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION (OTCBB: FSRT)
"Up 37.93% on Wednesday"
FreeStar Technology Corp. provides mission-critical solutions to the financial industry worldwide. Working with merchants and acquirers in more than twenty countries, its product suite has empowered partners to focus on their core competencies, while its innovative driven approach has enabled them to benefit from first to market advantage and realize their true potential. FreeStar Technology has adopted a partnership strategy for growth. Its partners are market leaders in their respective industries. These include IKEA, Finnair and Stockmann. Its subsidiaries, Rahaxi Processing Oy., Finland, FreeStar Technologies Ireland, Ltd., and FreeStar Dominicana S.A. Dominican Republic, continue to develop and implement first class products and solutions that enhance the service level its partners can offer their customers. For more information, visit www.freestartech.com and www.rahaxi.com.
July 23 -
Rahaxi Processing Enters Agreement With Natixis Paiements to Process China Unionpay Transactions
Over 1.5 billion China Unionpay (CUP) cards in circulation; Around 700 thousand Chinese visitors to France last year
FreeStar Technology Corp. (OTCBB: FSRT), an international card payments processor and technology company, announced that its Finnish-based, wholly-owned subsidiary, Rahaxi Processing Oy has entered into an agreement with Natixis Paiements (KN.PA) to become the card processor of choice for China Unionpay (CUP) transactions.
Rahaxi Processing Oy platform provides an on-line real-time local connection point for Acquiring Banks onto the China Unionpay network benefiting from China's growing prosperity. China Unionpay (CUP) is one of the world's largest payment schemes, whose members issued millions of debit/credit cards to enable Chinese travellers to make purchase or cash withdrawal when travelling in Europe. There are over 1.5 billion CUP cards in circulation and around 700 thousand Chinese people visited France last year.
Natixis Paiements have chosen the Rahaxi Managed Network option, which allows the merchant an automated secure key exchange protocol for message and PIN encryption. The Rahaxi Managed Network performs fraud checks and rejects cards with invalid or expired details, or cards involved in suspicious activity. A significant investment in engineering and resources, Rahaxi Processing has put together a system that is extremely flexible and exposes a reliable and comprehensive interface to the acquiring community. This lowers their barrier of entry to accept CUP cardholders at their merchant locations and provides a low-cost solution with fast time to market to guarantee an excellent return on investment.
Managing Director of Rahaxi Processing Oy, Dr. Jose Enrique Perez said, "When you factor in that Rahaxi is the only vendor in Finland having the highest security standards for Visa and MasterCard coupled with providing transactions for China Unionpay, you can see that we are aggressively moving our business plan forward to take advantage of market opportunities."
Rahaxi Chairman Paul Egan said, "We have been committed to growing our revenue through strategic partnerships and with more than 1.5 billion CUP cards in circulation, we look forward to increased revenue through transaction processing in the years ahead. This is clear evidence of Rahaxi spreading its wings across Europe with secure and trusted platform leaders in EMV and PCI, which is attracting new card channels and large banking institutions."
INDEPENDENT BANK CORPORATION (NASDAQ: IBCP)
"Up 38.05% on Wednesday"
Independent Bank Corporation, a bank holding company, provides commercial banking services primarily in Michigan. The company offers various deposit products, including time deposits, checking and savings accounts, and NOW accounts. It also provides commercial lending, direct and indirect consumer financing, mortgage lending, and safe deposit box services. In addition, the company offers title insurance services, and investment and insurance services. Further, it provides payment plans to consumers to purchase extended automobile warranties. As of December 31, 2007, the company operated approximately 106 branches, 3 drive-thru facilities, and 9 loan production offices. Independent Bank Corporation was founded in 1864 and is based in Ionia, Michigan.
July 22 -
Independent Bank Corporation Reports Increase in Second Quarter 2008 Earnings
Independent Bank Corporation (NASDAQ: IBCP), a leading Michigan-based community bank, reported second quarter 2008 net income from continuing operations of $3.3 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, versus net income from continuing operations of $108,000, or $0.00 per diluted share, in the prior-year period. For the quarter ended June 30, 2008, the Company recorded net income of $3.3 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $43,000, or $0.00 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2007.
Return on average equity and return on average assets (based on net income from continuing operations) were 5.58% and 0.42%, respectively, in the second quarter of 2008, compared to 0.17% and 0.01%, respectively, in the second quarter of 2007.
For the six months ended June 30, 2008, net income from continuing operations was $3.7 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, compared to $4.0 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, in the same six-month period of 2007. Net income for the six months ended June 30, 2008 was $3.7 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, compared to $4.2 million, or $0.18 per diluted share, in the prior-year six-month period.
The year-on-year increase in second quarter 2008 income from continuing operations was primarily attributable to increases in net interest income, securities gains and mortgage loan servicing income as well as a decline in the provision for loan losses. These changes were partially offset by higher non-interest expenses and income taxes.
Michael M. Magee, President and CEO of Independent Bank Corporation, commented: "We are very pleased with the improvement in our current quarter results particularly in the face of a challenging market. The increase in our net interest margin was particularly encouraging. Our bank remains well capitalized. Moreover, we intend to continue to build our regulatory capital ratios without the need for any equity offering through our earnings and a selective reduction of our total assets."
The Company's tax equivalent net interest income totaled $34.5 million during the second quarter of 2008, an increase of $2.5 million or 7.7% from the year-ago period, and an increase of $2.8 million, or 8.7% from the first quarter of 2008. The Company's tax equivalent net interest income as a percent of average interest-earning assets (the "net interest margin") was 4.68% during the second quarter of 2008 compared to 4.27% in the year ago period, and 4.30% in the first quarter of 2008. As noted in the Company's prior earnings release, based on current conditions, the decline in short-term interest rates earlier in 2008 was expected to have a beneficial impact on the future net interest margin. This benefit was evident in the second quarter of 2008 as the Company's cost of funds declined by 60 basis points compared to the first quarter. However, the full realization of this benefit has been partially offset by the adverse impact of an increased level of non-performing assets. Interest income was reduced by $0.6 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $0.4 million in the second quarter of 2007, due to the reversal of interest on loans placed on non-accrual during the quarter.
Service charges on deposits totaled $6.2 million in the second quarter of 2008, a 3.4% decrease from the comparable period in 2007 due primarily to a decline in overdraft fees. VISA check card interchange income increased by 15.7% to $1.5 million for the second quarter of 2008, up from $1.3 million in the second quarter of 2007. The increase in check card interchange revenues resulted primarily from an increase in debit card usage by the Company's customer base.
Securities gains totaled $0.8 million in the second quarter of 2008, versus $0.1 million in the comparable period in 2007. The Company generated $0.7 million of gains in the current quarter related to the sale of $20.7 million of municipal securities. The sale of certain municipal securities in the second quarter of 2008 was initiated in order to reduce the mix of tax-exempt securities and to begin a process of selectively deleveraging the balance sheet in order to enhance regulatory capital ratios.
Gains on the sale of mortgage loans were $1.1 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $1.2 million in the year-ago quarter. Mortgage loan sales totaled $80.2 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $77.9 million in the second quarter of 2007. Mortgage loans originated totaled $111.3 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $129.6 million in the comparable quarter of 2007. The decline in mortgage loan originations is primarily due to an increase in mortgage loan interest rates during the second quarter of 2008 leading to a drop in refinancing activity. In addition, purchase money mortgage activity has declined due to lower home sales volumes. Loans held for sale were $26.2 million at June 30, 2008, compared to $34.0 million at December 31, 2007.
Mortgage loan servicing income was $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2008, versus $0.7 million in the year-ago period. This increase is primarily due to a $1.0 million recovery of previously recorded impairment charges on capitalized mortgage loan servicing rights in the second quarter of 2008, compared to a $0.1 million recovery of previously recorded impairment charges in the second quarter of 2007. At June 30, 2008, the Company was servicing approximately $1.66 billion in mortgage loans for others on which servicing rights have been capitalized.
Non-interest expense totaled $31.2 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $29.8 million in the year-ago period. The rise in non-interest expenses was primarily due to increases in loan and collection expenses and losses on other real estate and repossessed assets. These items increased because of the elevated level of non-performing loans and lower residential housing prices.
Commenting on asset quality, CEO Magee stated: "While we remain cautious about economic conditions, we were pleased with the slowing rate of growth in non-performing loans and watch credits in the current quarter, as well as the improvement in commercial loan delinquency rates. These improvements reflect, in part, the ongoing efforts of our team to proactively identify and assess potential problem loans."
The increase in non-performing loans since year-end 2007 is due principally to an increase in non-performing commercial loans, which primarily reflect the addition of several credits with real estate developers becoming past due in 2008. These delinquencies largely reflect cash flow difficulties encountered by many real estate developers in Michigan as they confront a significant decline in sales of real estate. The elevated level of non-performing mortgage loans is primarily due to a rise in foreclosures reflecting both weak economic conditions and soft residential real estate values in many parts of Michigan. Other real estate and repossessed assets totaled $11.0 million at June 30, 2008, compared to $9.7 million at December 31, 2007.
The provision for loan losses was $12.4 million and $14.9 million in the second quarters of 2008 and 2007, respectively. The level of the provision for loan losses in each period reflects the Company's overall assessment of the allowance for loan losses, taking into consideration factors such as loan mix, levels of non-performing and classified loans and loan net charge-offs. Loan net charge-offs were $11.3 million (1.78% annualized of average loans) in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $7.4 million (1.18% annualized of average loans) in the second quarter of 2007. The second quarter 2008 loan net charge-offs were divided among the following categories: commercial loans, $8.4 million; consumer loans, $0.7 million (including $0.2 million of deposit overdrafts); and mortgage loans, $2.2 million. The commercial loan and mortgage loan net charge-offs in the second quarter of 2008 primarily reflect write-downs to expected liquidation values for real estate or other collateral securing the loans. At June 30, 2008, the allowance for loan losses totaled $51.1 million, or 1.99% of portfolio loans, compared to $45.3 million or 1.78% of portfolio loans at December 31, 2007.
Total assets were $3.24 billion at June 30, 2008, compared to $3.28 billion at December 31, 2007. Loans, excluding loans held for sale, were $2.57 billion at June 30, 2008, compared to $2.55 billion at December 31, 2007. Deposits totaled $2.08 billion at June 30, 2008, a decrease of $425.0 million from December 31, 2007. The decrease in deposits primarily reflects a $403.5 million decline in brokered certificates of deposits ("brokered CD's"). During the first six months of 2008 maturing or callable brokered CD's were replaced with borrowings from the Federal Home Loan Bank and Federal Reserve Bank due to significantly lower comparative costs.
Stockholders' equity totaled $238.3 million at June 30, 2008, or 7.36% of total assets, representing a net book value per share of $10.35. The Company remains "well capitalized" for regulatory purposes.
Magee concluded: "Like so many other Midwest-based community banks, we have continued to confront some of the most challenging industry conditions in recent memory. While the current economic outlook is not expected to improve significantly in the near term, we believe our process and operating discipline will enable our Company to improve shareholder value over the long run. We remain firmly committed to containing costs, improving credit quality, and upholding the fundamentals of community banking."
Michael M. Magee, President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert N. Shuster, Chief Financial Officer and Stefanie M. Kimball, Chief Lending Officer, will review second quarter 2008 results in a conference call for investors and analysts beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday, July 23, 2008.
To participate in the live conference call, please dial 1-800-860-2442. The call can also be accessed (listen-only mode) via the Company's website at www.ibcp.com in the "Investor Relations" section. A playback of the call can be accessed by dialing 1-877-344-7529 (Replay Passcode # 420264). The replay will be available through July 31, 2008.
In addition, a Power Point presentation associated with the second quarter 2008 conference call will be available on the Company's website at www.ibcp.com in the "Investor Relations" section under the "Presentations" tab beginning on Wednesday, July 23, 2008.