Trigaux: From pasta to treasure, five area firms vie to expand, or just rebound

Posted on Mar 10, 2015


Five prominent Tampa Bay area companies shed some light on their 2015 strategies, from expansion to revival.

Hugs for Brazil: Tampa’s Bloomin’ Brands has decided to push its Carrabba’s Italian restaurant chain into the Brazilian market but will substitute the name Abbraccio in that country. The word means “embrace” or “hug” in Italian. Bain Capital Partners, best known as the private equity firm Mitt Romney once helped run, is unloading the remainder of its stake in Bloomin’ — the parent of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill and Fleming’s — with a pending stock sale pegged at just over $ 450 million. Bloomin’ CEO Liz Smith’s compensation last year was a healthy $ 6.2 million, up from $ 1.9 million the year before but far below the $ 24.5 million she enjoyed in 2012. That’s when Bloomin’ went public after being held by Bain and some other firms.

What will drive Bloomin’ in 2015? Says CEO Smith: “Outback will create new menu items that continue to reinforce our ‘Best at Steak’ messaging.” Bonefish will launch a new bar menu and seasonal menu changes. And Carrabba’s new core menu will “broaden occasions.”

A little more seasoning, please: We’re not talking about a restaurant but a bank. St. Petersburg’s C1 Bank, which went public last summer, concedes the loans it has made to customers are still too young to judge their long-term quality. With 30 banking centers and $ 1.5 billion in assets, C1 is the 18th-largest bank based in Florida and claims to be the sixth-fastest-growing bank in the country based on assets.

It’s also innovative, not a word associated often with banks. C1 just partnered with CenterState Bank of Florida to market C1 Lab’s “Smart Loan Express” to institutions across the country. The service helps bank lenders better manage new loan risks via an online, mobile or tablet interface. C1 Labs is the in-house product development team of C1 Bank.

Dwindling treasure hunter: For many years, everybody has enjoyed the tales of Tampa underwater treasure hunter Odyssey Marine Exploration finding old sunken ships, some laden with gold and silver. What some investors do not like is Odyssey’s puny stock price, which closed Monday at 60 cents a share. Odyssey’s stock is trading at depths not seen since 2001. All hands on deck.

Knock, knock: Who’s enjoying a stock renaissance? Tampa doormaker Masonite International shares have rocketed north since hitting $ 24 in late 2011, closing Monday at $ 64.16. Thank the housing industry bounceback and smart Masonite managers.

Less, soda. More java: Shares of private drinkmaker Cott Corp., with HQs in both Toronto and Tampa, peaked at over $ 30 back in 2004. Now it would embrace $ 10 on a regular basis. With soda sales waning, the company diversified in December, buying DS Services to push Cott further into water and coffee sales. DS just teamed up with Keurig Green Mountain to feature its Javarama coffee in popular Keurig brewing systems.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com.

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