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Found 36 results

  1. http://www.autoblog.com/2009/12/11/report-detroit-three-call-japans-cash-for-clunkers-program-unf/ http://www.autoblog.com/2010/01/07/report-obama-urged-to-push-japan-to-open-its-cash-for-clunkers/ Protectionism in full swing once again in Japan. Why should their cars be eligible for cash for clunkers in the US, if American cars are not there. That is not free trade. Hopefully President Obama puts an end to this nonsense.
  2. (Courtesy of The Financial Post) It is pretty easy you sign up with your credit card or debit and few days later you get your gold delivered to your front door I read somewhere else you can buy up to $6000 CDN worth of Gold per day so almost 6 ounces. Scotia Mocatta
  3. Montreal house prices hold steady The Gazette Monday, October 06, 2008 Montreal's real-estate market remained steady during the third quarter, with average house prices experiencing single-digit gains, according to a House Price Survey report released yesterday by Royal LePage Real Estate Services. A decline in unit sales was recorded, however. While activity levels have rescinded since last year, average listing periods have actually shortened by a few days, compared to the same period 12 months prior. Of the 10 Montreal markets examined, the average price of a detached bungalow increased by 4.8 percent to $236,045, a standard two-storey home appreciated by 0.5 per cent to $336,381 and a standard condominium rose by 4.4 per cent to $204,336, year-over-year. "House prices in Montreal are inching upwards, despite an increase in listing inventory and the fact that there are slightly fewer unit sales," said Gino Romanese, senior vice-president of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. "When looking at Montreal's current housing market, we need to realize that 2007 shattered records," he added. "It's unrealistic to believe that that pace can be kept up for very long." © The Gazette 2008 http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/business/story.html?id=952e9c04-7da1-4b47-8865-fd882d7d860b
  4. November 14, 2008 by Deyanira Bautista Filed under Montreal Market Report According to the Greater Montréal Real Estate Board’s MLS® system, there were 36,955 transactions from last year until now. 4% less sales compared to last year. In terms of property prices in the Metropolitan Area of Montréal, the median prices of single-family homes and plexes increased by 6% compared to the same period last year, condominium prices increased by 3%. Compared to the first 10 months of 2007, condo sales grew by 5% in the Montréal Metropolitan Area. On the other hand, sales of single-family homes decreased by 7%, and plex sales decreased by 5%. “The median price of a single-family home grew last month by 4 per cent, increasing from $220,000 in October 2007 to $228,000 in October 2008. The plex market retained a stable median price at $329,250, while that of condominiums fell slightly by 1 per cent. This decrease can be explained by the minor decline in median prices of condominiums on the Island of Montréal, the largest condominium market. October’s resale market continues to favour sellers, despite a 9 per cent increase in the number of active listings in the MLS® system.” Source: Montreal Real Estate Board http://montrealrealestateblog.com/
  5. Le Groupe Le Parc is moving ahead with phase 2 of their retirement residences, corner Viau and Jarry. 8 storey building will be erected. The sales office trailer is installed and the signs are up. =================================================================================================
  6. (Courtesy of CJAD) I am all for trying to get better prices and a larger selection of wine. Now the SAQ just needs to buy a spirits distributer in the US so we can get better prices on scotch, vodka and other hard alcohol.
  7. Même le Wall Street Journal en parle : Developers Brace for End of Montreal's Condo Boom Sales Are Well off the Pace of Previous Years By DAVID GEORGE-COSH Nov. 5, 2013 6:12 p.m. ET With signs that Montreal's more than decadelong condominium boom could be fading, some local developers are repositioning or even pulling projects due to waning demand. In the downtown core, quarterly presales of new condos have averaged nine units per project this year, according to Altus Group Ltd. AIF.T -0.07% , a real-estate consultancy. That is well below the pace of such sales in both 2012 and 2011, when the average was 16 units. Meanwhile, only 10 new condo projects were announced in Canada's second-largest city in the first half of 2013, compared with 14 such projects in the first half of 2012. At the current pace, Montreal isn't likely to match the 25 project launches announced last year, and could fall below the 2011 total of 14 projects, Altus Group says. Developers have noticed. "There's starting to be a lot of uncertainty in the marketplace," said Sam Scalia, chief executive of Samcon Inc., one of the city's biggest developers with 13 projects in the works. Nearly 1,500 people signed up for information on Samcon's 190-unit Drummond Condominiums project when the developer began presales in January, Mr. Scalia said. But sales were slow, and Samcon pulled the project from the market in May for a full redesign with a new architect. "When we came out on the market, there was a glut of units that were launched in our district downtown," Mr. Scalia said. When Samcon puts the Drummond project back on the market in January, units will be roughly 10% smaller and one-bedroom units will be priced nearly 33,000 Canadian dollars ($31,578) less than the initial C$275,000, Mr. Scalia said. The project is slated for completion by the end of 2016, one year later than first planned. Montreal's condo boom, like those in Toronto and Vancouver, was fueled by ultralow interest rates that put homeownership within the reach of more Canadians. The resilience of Canada's housing sector was a key factor in helping the country weather the global financial crisis better than many of its industrialized peers. But it also led to record household-debt accumulation, a concern for Canadian policy makers. Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty singled out the overheated condo markets in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal as areas of particular concern when he tightened mortgage-financing rules to put the brakes on the sector. A slowdown appears to be under way. "While overall sales are good, [the condo market is] moving at a more muted pace," said Colin Johnston, president of Altus Group's Canadian research, valuation and advisory department. Montreal's condo-resale market also is showing strain. Listings have soared 24% in the past 12 months, according to the Greater Montreal Real Estate Board. Sales, though, have fallen by 15%. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., a government-owned housing agency, forecasts 10,000 new condo units will be built in the Greater Montreal area in 2013, down 16% from last year and the second annual decline in a row. CMHC attributes the slowdown to a surplus of new condos and a rise in resale listings. "It feels like everyone who had to consider buying a condo has already done so," said Stéphane Côté, president of DevMcGill, a developer with four projects under construction. "Right now, we're on the tail end of the market." Mr. Côté said DevMcGill has positioned its projects to withstand a slowdown. Development of the condos is structured in several phases, and if sales begin to trickle, DevMcGill can redesign units to adjust to lower demand. Mitchell Abrahams, owner of Benvenuto Group, a Toronto-based developer, said sales of condos he is developing in Montreal are mixed. Le Peterson, a 31-story tower in the heart of Montreal, has had "slow but steady" sales with 53% of the development sold. Meanwhile, the Belvedere, a luxury development in Montreal's tony Hampstead neighborhood, closed its sales center earlier this year due to poor sales, Mr. Abrahams said, declining to elaborate. "Montreal's a hard market for people to make a decision," he said. "But fundamentally, it's still a great condo market." The slowdown has a silver lining. Samcon's Mr. Scalia said he is in talks with at least three developers to take on projects that haven't sold well, though he declined to identify them. Some developers predict it will take several years for the market to absorb the excess inventory. Michael Engels, vice president of sales at Inca Development, said the slowdown isn't much of a surprise. After a rush of product coming to the market, developments still need some time to be digested by home buyers. Montreal's condo sector has become a buyer's market. Mr. Engels expects his current project, a development along the city's trendy Crescent Street downtown, to begin construction next year after selling over 40% of his inventory so far. "Competition is always subjective, even in this tough environment," he said.
  8. Quelques 'snippets' du dernier 'Canadian Real Estate' (Mar/Apr 2008) "When we first opened for sales in 2004, the general consensus was that we were crazy to be asking for $1,000 a square foot. Yet, we were very successful. We proved that the Toronto market was viable and other great brands have followed our success. We've now sold over $300 million worth of real estate and are averaging over $1,500 a square foot - a relative bargain compared to New York prices." "Toronto is a world-class city and it's only going up. It's getting better all the time. With Vancouver, Toronto and to a lesser degree, Montréal, the world is beginning to take notice of the value of Canadian real estate." "Several years ago we identified Canada as being a very viable and lucrative marketplace and one that we wanted a piece of." "According to sales figures for Trump Toronto, 35% of buyers are from Canada, 30% are from the UK and 20% are from the US." "We're not actively planning any additional Canadian projects right now. The Toronto property has been our main focus in Canada to date. Its success will hopefully drive interest in markets like Montreal or Vancouver. Right now, we're focused on Toronto, but certainly look forward to future projects throughout the country." P.S. Trump ne fait que preter son nom au Trump Toronto (pour $1mil et un pourcentage des ventes).
  9. Canada's housing market cools Home prices are still rising but much more slowly.Tyler Anderson/National PostHome prices are still rising but much more slowly. Resale price growth lowest in seven years Garry Marr, Financial Post Published: Friday, June 13, 2008 More On This Story TORONTO -- The Canadian real estate market is being flooded with homes, causing prices to start falling in some key markets, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. The average price of a home sold last month in the country's top 25 markets was $337,071, an all-time record. But that record price was only up 1.1% from May, 2007 -- the smallest year-over-year increase in seven years. "The record number of new listings means more opportunities for buyers," said Gregory Klump. chief economist with CREA. "The resale housing market has evolved in just a few short months." CREA said there were 67,628 new units on the market in May, a 7% jump from last year. It was the second straight month that a record number of houses has gone on sale. The impact on prices is being felt most keenly in Alberta. The average price of a home sold in Calgary last month was $418,881, a 2.4% drop from a year ago. Edmonton sale prices averaged out at $340,499, down 4.8% from a year ago. Unit sales in both Alberta cities are also plummeting. Calgary homes sales were off 34.2% from a year ago while Edmonton sales were down 34.8% during the same period. The home sales are dropping across the country. CREA said on a national basis sales were off 16.9% in May from a year earlier.
  10. Luxury automakers smash August sales records in Canada By Nicolas Van Praet, Financial PostSeptember 6, 2009 When auto executives gathered at Pebble Beach in Carmel, Calif. this month to show off a bevy of new luxury car models, the mood was decidedly more downbeat than in previous years. Managers for Lamborghini and Lincoln decried the state of sales for their high-end cars, arguing that their well-heeled American buyers are fearful of flaunting their money with lavish purchases at a time when the United States is still gripped in financial scandals and climbing unemployment. “Keeping up with the Joneses is passé,” lamented Ford Motor Co.’s Mark Fields. Somebody forgot to tell that to Canadians. Amid the worst job market in 15 years, several luxury automakers smashed August sales records in Canada. Mercedes-Benz reported a 20% increase in sales and has sold 2,318 more vehicles this year than last. BMW and Lexus are also besting last year’s tally with double-digit percentage increases last month. Audi nearly doubled its sales in August over a year ago, and has sold 27% more vehicles this year. The country is in a recession and yet the luxury market is holding up. Meanwhile, sales of the most affordable vehicles, subcompacts, are down 26% through the first eight months. “It’s totally counter-intuitive,” said John White, chief executive of Volkswagen Group Canada, Inc., which comprises the Volkswagen and Audi brands. “It’s taken us a little bit by surprise. And the Audi division has had to turn around and ask [headquarters] for more cars because we didn’t think the demand would be as strong in a down market.” Mr. White’s read on the situation is that Canadians who believe they are secure in their jobs are pulling the trigger on buying middle-of-the-road luxury vehicles like the A4 sedan and BMW 3-Series, not the higher-end models. He said the luxury segment has become hyper-competitive as BMW and Mercedes “are out there as aggressive as you’ll see mainstream competitors,” offering deals that were unthinkable only a few years ago and making it easier for buyers to step into premium cars. Mercedes is offering lease deals such as $398 per month on its 2010 C250 car, based on an interest rate of 4.9% for 36 months. That’s on par with a similarly-equipped Honda Accord or Mazda6, according to the Automobile Protection Association. Roughly 40% of luxury vehicle sales transactions in Canada are leases, according to J.D. Power & Associates’ Power Information Network. One third of people pay cash while the rest take out a loan. Sales growth is particularly strong in one sub-segment of the premium market: compact luxury SUVs. Volvo, Mercedes and Audi have launched new vehicles into that category this year, which has helped boost sales volumes 66% over 2008 levels, said industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers. “We’re still a society that needs to carry stuff,” said J.D. Power analyst Geoff Helby in explaining why SUV models like the Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5 are clicking with buyers. “[People] are stepping away from the previous generation of minivans and big honking SUVs and they’re going into something smaller” without giving up luxury features. In the mind of the Canadian luxury buyer, downsizing is the compromise they’re making in the recession, Mr. Helby said. Mary Weil is proof. The media relations professional and her husband started looking around for a new vehicle earlier this year after the lease on a larger sports utility vehicle he drove expired, she recalls. They decided on a Mercedes GLK compact SUV. “The price point was surprisingly not that much higher than comparable vehicles.” In a Jan.15 analysis, Mr. DesRosiers predicted the luxury market in Canada overall will drop 5% this year. Automakers sold 131,436 luxury vehicles in 2008, a 3% decline over the year before. Financial Post [email protected]
  11. Microsoft to Open Stores, Hires Retail Hand By NICK WINGFIELD Microsoft Corp. said it hired a former Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executive to help the company open its own retail stores, a strategy shift that borrows from the playbook of rival Apple Inc. The Redmond, Wash., company said it hired David Porter, most recently the head of world-wide product distribution at DreamWorks Animation SKG, as corporate vice president of retail stores for Microsoft. In a statement, Microsoft said the first priority of Mr. Porter, who is also a 25-year veteran of Wal-Mart, will be to define where to place the Microsoft stores and when to open them. A Microsoft spokesman said the company's current plans are for a "small number" of stores. [microsoft store and retail concept] Microsoft In a warehouse near its Redmond, Wash., campus, Microsoft created mockups for how Microsoft products might be displayed either in its own stores or in a retailer's. [microsoft store or retail concept] Microsoft It remains to be seen whether the effort can add some pizzazz to Microsoft's unfashionable image, which Apple has sought to reinforce with ads that mock its competitor. Mr. Porter, in a statement, said there are "tremendous opportunities" for Microsoft to create a "world-class shopping experience" for the company's customers. "The purpose of opening these stores is to create deeper engagement with consumers and continue to learn firsthand about what they want and how they buy," Microsoft said in a statement. The move is a sign of the deeper role consumer-technology companies are playing in the retail business, despite the many risks of straying from their traditional businesses of making hardware and software. Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., encountered widespread skepticism when it first began opening its own retail stores in 2001. Eight years later, though, Apple's chain of more than 200 stores around the world are widely credited with helping the company boost sales of its Mac, iPod and iPhone product lines. The Apple stores, with their eye-catching architecture, highly-trained sales staff and "genius bars" that provide technical support, gave Apple a way to showcase its products in an environment where they weren't lumped in with a gamut of other electronics items. Sony Corp. and Bose Corp. also operate their own stores. At the same time, some large electronics retailers have fallen on hard times amidst the weakening economy. CompUSA Inc. last year closed most of its retail stores, while Circuit City Stores Inc. is in the process of shutting down all of its stores and laying off more than 30,000 employees. Microsoft has long flirted with the idea of doing its own store, even as it has tested ways that retail partners can better sell Microsoft products. In a 20,000-square-foot warehouse near its campus in the suburbs of Seattle, Microsoft has tested various retail concepts, complete with shelves displaying Xbox games and big computer monitors with touch-sensitive screens. Key details about Microsoft's retail plans still need to be worked out, though. Microsoft said the stores could feature a range of products from personal computers running its Windows operating system to cellphones running the company's Windows Mobile operating system to its Xbox videogame console. One of Mr. Porter's tasks will be to figure out whether to actually sell computers rather than merely show off their features. Any decision that favored some PC makers and left others off store shelves could anger some hardware partners. Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group Inc., which tracks retailers, said Apple doesn't face the dilemmas Microsoft will in the retail business because Apple makes the hardware and software for its products. "That's going to be a big challenge for Microsoft," Mr. Baker said. A spokeswoman for Hewlett-Packard Co., one of Microsoft's biggest hardware partners in the PC business, declined to comment on Microsoft's retail strategy. Spokesmen for Dell Inc. didn't respond to requests for comment. Microsoft's store plans could also irk existing retail partners like Best Buy Co., on whom Microsoft is especially dependent for sales to consumers. Best Buy representatives didn't return calls requesting comment. Microsoft said it will share the lessons it learns from its own stores with other retailers. The failures of other stores opened by technology companies will loom over Microsoft as it launches its stores. In 2004, computer maker Gateway Inc. shuttered a network of more than 188 company-owned retail stores after weak sales. Microsoft itself operated a Microsoft store inside a movie-theater complex in San Francisco beginning in 1999, but two years later shut down the store -- which showcased, but didn't sell, Microsoft products.
  12. NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Real estate values around the nation have collapsed, and sales of foreclosed and "underwater" homes now dominate many housing markets, according to a report released Tuesday. The report, from Zillow.com, a real estate Web site, revealed that with foreclosures soaring, nearly 20% of the nation's home sales in 2008 were of bank-repossessed properties. Another 11% were short sales, in which homeowners owed more in mortgage debt than their homes were worth. Madera, Calif., had the highest percentage of these distressed sales: 54.6% of all transactions there were foreclosed homes, and another 3.4% were short sales. In Merced, Calif., 53.4% of sales were foreclosures and 4.8% were short sales. In nearby Stockton, 51.1% were foreclosures and 5.4% were short sales. "As more markets turn down and markets that were already down go deeper, the pace at which value is being erased from the U.S. housing stock is rapidly increasing," said Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president in charge of data and analytics. "More value [was] wiped out in the fourth quarter of 2008 than was eliminated in all of 2007," Humphries said. About $3.3 trillion in home equity was erased in 2008, with $1.4 trillion of that wipeout coming in the fourth quarter alone, according to Humphries. More than $6 trillion in value has been lost since the market peaked in 2005. Those equity losses have put many homeowners underwater, where they're extremely vulnerable to foreclosure. These owners can't tap home equity for the cash they need to pay bills when they run into rough financial patches, and they often find it impossible to refinance - lenders will not loan more than the property is worth. In the United States, 17.6% of all homes are now underwater, according to Zillow, as are 41.2% of all mortgages for homes bought in the past five years. The worst-hit cities are in the once-booming Sun Belt. In Las Vegas, 61.4% of all homes are underwater. Because so many homes are worth less than their mortgage balances, an increasing number have to be sold short. But short sale transactions can take a long time to complete, because lenders have been having trouble keeping up with the flood of requests. "The speed of short sales is a function of the resources being allocated to them by lenders, and those resources are being stretched to the limit," Humphries said. That means lenders may not act on approving short sales for months. The deals cannot go forward without their approval, because the banks must agree to forgive the difference between what they're owed and what the sale brings in. As the time it takes to arrange short sales lengthens, they become harder to complete. Time and money wasted One example of how price declines can doom a short sale occurred recently in Phoenix. Curtis Johnson, a real estate broker there, worked with a health care worker whose hours were being cut and who could no longer afford her mortgage. She fell behind and decided to sell. Johnson was able to find a buyer willing to pay $183,000, and got an approval form the lender. The owner confidently moved out, got a new place and started a new life. But the lender folded and the mortgage went to a new servicer, who took six weeks to approve the deal. "Unfortunately, the buyers who were approved were no longer interested because the real estate market had dropped significantly," Johnson said. "They wrote a new offer, considerably lower then the first, and it was time to start over." Two more offers eventually fell through before a new buyer was found and the owner's bank approved the price, this time at $163,000. On the day of that closing, however, the parties discovered that the buyer's lender had run out of funds and dropped out of the deal. The home went to foreclosure auction before another sale could be arranged. The house is now on the market for $139,900. "[The house is] listed for less than what would have been received had the bank been willing to work with us, and still has not yet sold," Johnson said. Distressed sales like that depress the market for all homeowners. Regular sellers in cities dominated by foreclosures have to adjust their prices downward to compete. The percentage of homes sold for less than what their owners originally paid has leaped up in the past couple of years. In the United States as a whole, 34.6% of the sales made in 2008 were done at a loss. In Merced, 71.6% of all sales last year were for less than the seller paid. Stockton, Modesto and Las Vegas all had in excess of 68% of all homes being sold at a loss. Foreclosures beget more foreclosures by adding inventory to the market, which depresses prices, which increases foreclosures, according to Humphries.
  13. Canadian retail sales up in 2008: Report By Derek Abma, Canwest News ServiceJanuary 9, 2009 10:04 AM A report released Friday by Canada's largest processor of credit- and debit-card transactions indicates people were spending more money this past holiday season than the year before despite the downbeat economic environment. Moneris Solutions said its data for December sales indicates "resilience" in consumer spending last month and "dramatic growth" for certain categories, such as department stores and clothing retailers. Moneris said it processed two per cent more sales in all merchant categories in December compared with a year earlier. It said sales at department stores — which includes Wal-Mart and Zellers — were up nine per cent, and sales at apparel outlets were up six per cent. "Canadian consumers and retailers are owed a little bit of credit," said Brian Green, senior vice-president of Moneris Solutions. "Despite the inclement weather and despite all the noise about the economy, consumers went out and they bought more this year than they did last year, and retailers gave them a reason to do that." Green said retailers should be credited for their holiday sales performance because they responded to "a more difficult economy" by providing discounts, conducting successful promotions, and ensuring a positive experience for the people that came to their stores. He said in better economic times, the increase in holiday sales processed by Moneris has been as much as seven per cent. Richard Talbot, president of retail-analysis group Talbot Consultants, said he's not surprised by these numbers and never expected this past holiday season to be as bad as some expected. "I was not a great believer in the doom and gloom for Canada that we were led to believe in the media ahead of time because that wasn't the feedback I was getting from the retailers I deal with," he said. Talbot said the economic situation in Canada is not as dire as in the United States, though there could be more difficulties for domestic retailers in the coming year as the downturn for Canada's largest trading partner, the U.S., spills across the border. Moneris' figures for December showed sales for discount retailers, such as the various "dollar stores," were down 11 per cent from the year before. Moneris said it processed nine per cent less sales for wholesale outlets last month, a category that includes Costco. Green said it's possible the bargains being offered by department and specialty stores cut into some of the business for discount and wholesale outlets. Moneris said the average transaction value in December was three per cent less than a year before. Green said it was the first time Moneris, which has been doing these holiday-season comparisons for eight years, has seen a year-to-year decline in the average transaction amount. The company attributed this to a combination of discounting, lower gasoline prices and overall economic conditions. © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  14. Toronto's Condo Kings: Is their boom sustainable? Property developer Peter Freed, head of Freed Decelopments poses for a photo at his penthouse apartment in downtown Toronto.Chris Young for Financial PostProperty developer Peter Freed, head of Freed Decelopments poses for a photo at his penthouse apartment in downtown Toronto. Jacqueline Thorpe, Financial Post Published: Monday, June 02, 2008 From his penthouse in Toronto's hip fashion district, Peter Freed can track the development of his six next condo projects taking shape along King Street West. One of Mr. Freed's buildings will have interiors by Philippe Starck, the must-have French designer of the moment. Another will be inspired by the Neoplasticism art movement made famous by Mondrian, where design is pared down to the basics of lines and the primary colours red, yellow and blue. Mr. Freed has eight projects on the board worth a total of half a billion dollars, a tiny fraction of the record 33,980 units under construction in the city. Canada's biggest city has become North America's biggest condo market, with more units now under development than Manhattan, Chicago and Los Angeles. As Mr. Freed looks off his terrace, where the lap pool and giant padded loungers are looking a little forlorn on a wet spring day, he is confident Toronto will not also become North America's biggest condo meltdown. "Right now, there's very large demand," says Mr. Freed, dressed casually in jeans, shirt-tails hanging out, no laces in his shoes. At 39, the laid-back developer is the fresh face of an eclectic group of condo kings who are transforming the very skyline of the city. Along with other design-focused builders like Cityzen Development Group, stalwarts like Tridel Corp. and Menkes Developments Ltd., and newcomers like Bazis International Inc., Mr. Freed is banking on the view Toronto is undergoing a seismic housing shift. Figures show a marked slowing in the Canadian housing market this year, including a 7.3% year-over-year drop in existing homes sales in Toronto in April and a subsiding of the mania that drove the condo market into overdrive last year. But builders say demographics, immigration, government regulation and cultural change will continue to skew demand for housing toward the condominium. Housing hotspots like Calgary may have already burned themselves out in a frenzy of building and soaring prices, but Toronto's rise as a global city will allow it to ride out any short-term weakness, they say. "We understand there's 75,000 people a year for the next 20 years projected to move into the city core," says Mr. Freed. So Toronto's condo kings, mostly privately held, backed by joint-venture partners and old-fashioned bank loans, are knee-deep in a building boom that has seen 67,984 condo units in 316 buildings launched since 2004. To anyone walking the city streets, the scale of activity is eye-popping, with dozens of cranes swinging like mammoth meccano sets across the skyline, the monotonous thud of foundation pilings being driven into the ground and convoys of cement trucks causing endless traffic snarls. They are building by the waterfront, around the subway line in the north of the city and in the east end where work-live lofts are all the rage. At Concord CityPlace, an 18-hectare master-planned city near the waterfront, 21 condo towers will eventually arise from barren railway lands, along with town homes, lofts and a large park. The city-within-a-city will be home to 16,000 people. "People ask us all the time what's going to go on in the market," says James Ritchie, vice-president of sales and marketing at Tridel, the biggest builder of condos in Toronto and owned by the DelZotto family. "To be candid, it's very difficult to tell you where it's going to go one way or another, other than when we look at the fundamentals, what's happening here in Toronto and how it's going to affect housing. The fact is, it's sustaining itself." Toronto real estate developers need to be an optimistic lot. Not only do they have the current U.S. housing bust hanging over their heads, but also the still-fresh memory of the Toronto property crash of the early 1990s. "We didn't call that a recession in our industry; it was a depression," says Sam Crignano of Cityzen, which has 14 projects and 9,000 units on the board, including the Daniel Libeskind-designed glass L Tower, which will rise like a glam-rock platform boot at the foot of the city on Front Street. "It was that perfect storm - a number of factors all converged to create that disaster." Double-digit interest rates, overbuilding, the introduction of the GST and a recession that sent unemployment soaring to 12%, brought the Toronto property market to its knees. According to Goldman Sachs, it was the fourth longest of 24 housing busts in the OECD since the 1970s. Prices declined from December, 1989, to September, 1998, a 34-quarter marathon that took values down 50% in some areas. Not only did the residential market fall apart, but Canada was home base for some very public flameouts in the commercial and retail real estate sector, with Campeau Corp. and the Reichmann's Olympia & York Developments Ltd. filing for bankruptcy. Now, the U.S. housing meltdown looms large, with prices down about 14% from their 2006 peak and so many homes on the market it would take nearly a year to shift the supply. The developers have noticed the first quarter softening. But they are not afraid. New condo sales totalled 3,433 in Toronto, only eight fewer units than last year, according to Urbanation, a condo tracking firm. And the price per square foot for sales rose to $388 from $348. However, with a glut of new buildings nearing competition or under construction, the market is definitely expected to cool. Brad Lamb, Toronto's biggest condo broker, and its most flamboyant, says new condo sales could be off as much as 40% this year and resales 10%. Mr. Lamb has his head, plastered onto the body of a lamb on billboards all over the city. He also hosts Big City Broker on HGTV, a "docu-soap" looking at the business of real estate. "But last year was an incredible, stupid year, where literally every property we put on the market sold by auction, with four or five bidders for every property," he says. "We're still getting that a bit, but it will start to taper off. The time to sell is about 30 days. A year ago it was 15 days. It will probably go to 60 days, which is a normal market. Sixty days is still a seller's market." The condo kings take a long-term view of a city they say is still in its infancy. "Over the last 10 years Toronto has grown by over a million people," says Alan Menkes, president at Menkes Development, which has been developing homes in the Toronto area for the past half century. Its latest project is the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences, a two-tower development in tony Yorkville, where luxury suites will run from 1,100 to 9,000 square feet and prices from $1.2-million to $16-million. "You're adding jobs, you're adding buying power," Mr. Menkes says. "They come with capital and they're looking for housing." Immigration is the main driver behind the condo story for Toronto, say developers, each one of whom can reel off the statistics on their fingers. Immigration to Canada totals roughly 225,000 a year and some 40% to 50% settle in Toronto. The Greater Toronto Area is expected to swell from about 5.5 million people to 6.9 million in 2016 and 8.3 million by 2031. The city proper is projected to reach 3.05 million by 2031. The Ontario government increasingly wants that population contained. In 2005, the province slapped an 800,000-hectare greenbelt - about the size of Prince Edward Island - around Lake Ontario, protecting a large swathe from development. The effect has been to intensify construction around established cities and vertically. Immigrants are used to living in apartments, developers add. With rental units all but disappearing as a result of the rent controls of the 1990s, the condo is a natural alternative. "The house is really more a North American phenomenon because no one in Europe can afford it because land is so expensive," says Michael Gold, president of Bazis North America. The developer has 35 projects underway around the world, including 1 Bloor, an 80-storey tower to be built on the corner of Canada's priciest retail strip. "We really see Toronto catching up to the rest of the world." Mr. Ritchie is loath to call the recent increase in building "a boom." Rather, he prefers to call it a slow, steady ramp-up to accommodate the growing swell of people. Besides immigrants, young people - especially women - are fuelling condo demand. They live with their parents longer, save money and move directly into home ownership. "One of our developments at Broadway and Redpath, I would say 25% to 30% of those units were purchased by single women probably in their late-20s, early-30s on a career path," says Mr. Crignano of Cityzen. Mr. Lamb says his company has reams of buyers in their 20s, drawn by the affordability of condos. "They used to be over 30," he says. "It's a very industrious generation of young people who see the benefit of owning their own property." The condo scene is turning Toronto into a young and very social city, Mr. Lamb adds. "CityPlace is like Peyton Place or Melrose Place," he says. "In a building like CityPlace with 400 people - 400 people typically under 40 - I can tell you the scene at the pool is crazy." At the other end of the spectrum, empty-nesters and an increasingly mobile and wealthy international set are demanding luxury and high-end design. It is a trend being witnessed around the globe, the end product of years of strong economic growth - spurred by the development of China, Russia, India, Brazil and fanned by low interest rates - which has raised income across the world. Phillipe Starck, for example, is designing interiors in Thailand, China, Japan, and Denmark. Canada's resource boom has brought it to the party. Mr. Freed says demand for more expensive units has risen gradually and that the luxury buyer is prepared to shop around. "We sold 20 high-end units in other buildings that were between $1-million and $2-million, but we had a lot of people who didn't buy," he says. "They didn't want to be in buildings with people who were buying units for $180,000." In March, he sold $20-million worth of condos in two weeks at one of his higher-end buildings, where units range from $1.5-million to $5.million. Mr. Menkes at Menkes Development says 70% of the Four Seasons Private Residences have been sold. "We're really providing a product that was not available before. We're putting Toronto on the map in terms of international draw," he says. The developers see every downtown Toronto parking lot or disused industrial space eventually filled with condos, mixed with shops and restaurants, and an increasingly educated and wealthy public - working in banking, design, media, medical research and the arts - moving in. Even if there are lean years ahead, they say they are much wiser than they were in the early '90s, with buildings pre-sold before the foundations are dug. "The fiscal discipline that has been instilled in developers today because of the '90s debacle has put us in much better standing," Mr. Menkes says. "Just in terms of banking underwriting, when we do construction loans, the discipline is much more rigorous." Cautionary notes aside, it is clear the condo kings are thrilled to be participating in the rise of Canada's condo city. "The city is going to be much wealthier and much more exciting because of all these new developments," Mr. Lamb says. Adds Mr. Menkes: "I think everyone feels proud when they see the nice skyline of the city they're living in." "I've lived in Toronto my whole life," says Mr. Freed. "To see certain downtown neighbourhoods take shape and become so liveable, so fast, it's incredible." Financial Post [email protected] http://www.financialpost.com/reports/property/story.html?id=552055 ________________________________________________________________________________________________________ From boom to gloom? Is that a continued property boom on the horizon or is a bust just around the corner?Peter Redman/National PostIs that a continued property boom on the horizon or is a bust just around the corner? Jacqueline Thorpe, Financial Post Published: Friday, May 30, 2008 Leave it to Garth Turner to throw cold water on the notion Canada can achieve a soft real estate landing, when history and the slump south of the border show that is a rare feat indeed. The personal-finance author-turned-Conservative-turned-Liberal MP for Halton, Ont., was one of the first to warn of the 1990s property flop - albeit several years too early. Now he thinks Canada is facing precisely the same mix of elements that burst the U.S. real estate bubble. "We are in a monumental denial phase," says Mr. Turner, who's book Greater Fool - The Troubled Future of Real Estate was published in March. "My theses is now reality, we are starting to see substantial sales declines that were ruled out only six months ago as impossible," he says. "But now people are saying prices aren't moving down. They will." The figures do show a noticeable retreat in the Canadian housing market this year. Nationally, resales fell 6.1% year-over-year in April, while price gains have slowed to 4% from around 10% in each of the prior five years. Calgary saw sales drop 31.2% over the year, Edmonton, 25.4% and Victoria 14.2%. Calgary and Edmonton also saw prices dips. According to Urbanation, a condo tracking firm, the condo market has defied the trend and remained fairly steady through the first quarter, even as a several new buildings hit the market. Mr. Turner says housing markets blow themselves out when prices rise beyond the reach of average buyers. This is what happened in the United States. "To keep the party going, the mortgage industry, the credit industry, backed by the banks, decided to lower the bar to ownership," he says. The subprime industry was born and home buyers with scant credit history and skimpy income were drawn into the market, enticed by no-money-down mortgages and interest rates that started out low, then ballooned to unsupportable levels. Similarly, in Canada, prices have risen beyond the reach of the average buyer, Mr. Turner argues. "What has been the response?" he asks. "The 40-year mortgage." Economists estimate amortizations longer than 25 years now constitute about 70% of all insured mortgage applications and about half of that amount is for the 40-year product. Mr. Turner reserves his starkest warnings for sprawling suburbs mushrooming around Canada's major cities. He says many new home developments have mortgage representatives onsite offering the same kind of no-money-down deals that dragged down the U.S. market. Buyers just have to come up with 1.5% of the house value to cover closing costs. These will become the "particle board slums of the future," Mr. Turner says, as smaller families and surging energy costs cause the suburbs to fall out of favour. But the Toronto condo market is heading for trouble too, as overbuilding swamps demand, he says. "We are classically at the end of a bull market," Mr. Turner says. Read the argument for a boom Financial Post [email protected] Close Presented by Reader Discussion http://www.financialpost.com/reports/property/story.html?id=552055
  15. Metro name to be largest in Canada with consolidation of five banners in Ontario 48 minutes ago MONTREAL — Venerable grocery banners Dominion and A&P will soon disappear as Canada's third-largest surpermarket chain, Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU.A), plans to consolidate five store names in Ontario under the Metro moniker, born 47 years ago in Quebec. Metro will become the most common supermarket name in Canada, boasting 376 stores in Quebec and Ontario, after 158 stores in Canada's largest province are converted over the next 15 months. Metro will have 376 stores in Quebec and Ontario, after 158 stores in Canada's largest province are converted over the next 15 months. The move supplants IGA as the most common grocery banner, although that chain's stores are owned and operated by different companies across the country. Metro announced Thursday it will spend $200 million to rebrand its stores in Ontario, where the company had been operating under the A&P, Dominion, Loeb, The Barn and Ultra banners. "For Quebecers, it's good news to see a banner that we know well establish itself in Ontario to become the largest banner in Ontario," CEO Eric La Fleche said in an interview. The change will see the disappearance from Canada's retail landscape two venerable grocery names: Dominion and A&P. The conversion will start next month with the rebranding of 49 Dominion stores in Toronto. Hamilton will then lose The Barn, followed by the removal of Ultra in Guelph and Burlington. By the end of 2008, 60 stores will be converted. Loeb will disappear early next year before A&P is converted by the end of 2009. The long-awaited change comes as the Ontario grocery market is in the midst of intense competition, which has driven down profits as chains have been forced to lower their prices to win or keep customers. Besides pressure from the two biggest national grocers, Loblaws (TSX:L) and Sobey's (TSX:EMP.A), Metro faces challenges from U.S.-based department store operator Wal-Mart and Toronto-based Shoppers Drug Mart (TSX:SC), which have both increased their grocery sales. "We think that in Ontario we will be stronger with one banner than with five and we think that the $200 million that we will invest in our stores will help us to better compete in that market," said La Fleche, who recently took over from longtime CEO Pierre Lessard. The only banner not included in the change is Food Basics, which competes in the discount food segment of the grocery market. There are also no immediate plans to open the Metro Plus banner or Brunet in-store pharmacies in larger Ontario stores. No store closures are forecast. The banner consolidation will produce savings by allowing the company to publish one flyer and market one store name. "I think you get more bang for your buck under one name. You can build better equity and more brand awareness across the province and have a more consistent shopping experience across the province," he said. While some stores will only be "refreshed," others will receive major upgrades. Metro's private label brands Selection and Irresistibles will continue to be added to store shelves. Newly stylized Metro signs will be added to Quebec locations over the next two to three years. La Fleche said the name on the store is secondary for consumers than the entire shopping experience. "They want to buy from people they know and trust. They want to buy good product and they want fair price. That's what we're all about and this move is about making that even better." The banner consolidation comes nearly three years after Metro purchased A&P Canada. It recently conducted extensive consumer research and considered maintaining two banner names. The decision was delayed a few months as the company tackled internal IT systems conversions and intense market pressures in Ontario. "We had a lot of work to do to set the foundation and be in a position to do these kinds of moves," La Fleche said. Operating under one banner could make it easier for Metro to eventually expand operations but the company said there are no immediate plans for acquisitions in Western Canada. Metro hopes the changes will improve its financial results, but wouldn't disclose targets. In its financial statement Thursday, the chain reported it earned $92.6 million for the latest quarter, up 3.7 per cent from $89.3 million for the corresponding 2007 period. Sales jumped just under one per cent to $3.37 billion from $3.34 billion for the corresponding quarter last year. Excluding decreased sales of tobacco products, sales were up 1.5 per cent over last year. Earnings per share rose to 82 cents compared with 77 cents last year, an increase of 6.5 per cent. "We resolved the issues associated with our new information systems in Ontario and achieved good performance in our Quebec operations," said La Fleche. With annual sales of nearly $11 billion and a workforce exceeding 65,000, Metro is Quebec's second biggest grocer and a growing food retailer in Ontario. On the Toronto Stock Exchange, Metro shares rose $1.33 to $26.77, a gain of 5.23 per cent. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________ METRO deviendra la plus importante bannière alimentaire en Ontario Un investissement de 200 millions $ pour regrouper les supermarchés de la compagnie sous la bannière Metro Toronto, le 7 août 2008 : METRO Inc. (TSX :MRU.A) a annoncé aujourd’hui qu’à partir de septembre 2008, elle regrouperait ses cinq bannières de supermarchés conventionnels en Ontario sous la bannière Metro. Le lancement de la bannière Metro en Ontario sera soutenu par un investissement de 200 millions $, dédié à la rénovation des magasins, à l’amélioration de l’offre alimentaire, ainsi qu’à la réalisation d’une campagne de marketing pour créer, avec ses 158 épiceries, la bannière alimentaire la plus importante de la province. La conversion des bannières Dominion, A&P, Loeb, The Barn et Ultra sous la bannière Metro sera effectuée d’ici les quinze prochains mois. Les magasins Food Basics ne sont pas touchés par ce changement, puisqu’ils œuvrent dans le secteur des magasins d’escompte. « La décision de lancer la marque Metro en Ontario fait partie d’une stratégie à long terme visant à capitaliser sur l’efficacité des activités d’exploitation et de marketing en unissant les forces individuelles des bannières existantes en Ontario et en mettant en commun les meilleures pratiques de nos magasins du Québec et de l’Ontario », a expliqué Eric La Flèche, Président et chef de la direction de METRO Inc. La transition vers Metro débutera en septembre à Toronto avec la conversion des magasins Dominion, de sorte que les magasins Dominion, Ultra et The Barn seront convertis avant la fin de 2008. La conversion des magasins Loeb suivra au cours des six premiers mois de 2009 et celle des magasins A&P avant la fin de 2009. Lorsque le programme de consolidation de la bannière sera complété, le réseau de magasins Metro sera constitué de 376 supermarchés conventionnels au Québec et en Ontario, dont 218 au Québec. METRO investira 200 millions $ pour moderniser ses magasins et accroître l’offre de produits afin de mieux répondre aux préférences des consommateurs ontariens tout en continuant à offrir des prix très compétitifs. La compagnie a commencé à planifier la conversion des bannières ontariennes après l’acquisition d’A&P Canada en 2005. En prévision du projet annoncé aujourd’hui, elle a intégré ses systèmes de gestion de l’information et renforcé sa chaîne d’approvisionnement. La compagnie en profite également pour dévoiler un nouveau logo Metro qui devient le logo de la bannière ainsi que celui de la Société. « Nous sommes très heureux d’entreprendre cette nouvelle étape dans la croissance de METRO », a déclaré M. La Flèche. « Nous bâtissons sur des fondations solides, grâce à notre stratégie ciblée sur l’alimentation, à nos excellents emplacements et à une équipe d’employés soucieux d’offrir à nos clients un service exceptionnel. Nous sommes emballés par les nouveautés qui seront offertes en magasin à partir de septembre. » METRO INC. Avec un chiffre d’affaires annuel de près de 11 milliards $ et plus de 65 000 employés, METRO Inc. est un chef de file dans les secteurs alimentaire et pharmaceutique au Québec et en Ontario, où elle exploite un réseau de près de 600 marchés d’alimentation sous plusieurs bannières dont Metro, Metro Plus, Super C, A&P, Dominion, Loeb et Food Basics de même que plus de 250 pharmacies sous les bannières Brunet, Clini Plus, The Pharmacy et Drug Basics.
  16. jesseps

    Shoes

    I know this is a weird topic but hey, it was bound to happen. At Cours Mont Royal, there is a new shoe store that opened up called Minelli from France. Its their first North American store, but it seems like its their first store in the Americas. If your looking for shoes, go check it out. The prices are reasonable (by my standards). I got a pair good quality leather shoes, that also have a leather sole and that are made in Portugal. Some other ones are made in Spain, Italy and maybe in France. The size range is from 40 to 45 (no half sizes). If I heard the sales person correctly, each size only gets 6 pairs. Honestly we finally have a middle market. No more looking at Aldo or Harry Rosen for shoes. :goodvibes:
  17. U.S. Economy: Retail Sales Drop in October by Most on Record By Shobhana Chandra and Bob Willis Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Retail sales and prices of goods imported to the U.S. dropped by the most on record, signaling the economy may be in its worst slump in decades. Purchases fell 2.8 percent in October, the fourth straight decline, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Labor Department figures showed import prices dropped 4.7 percent, pointing to a rising danger of deflation, and a private report said consumer confidence this month remained near the lowest level since 1980. ``The weakness in growth is intensifying and inflation pressures have evaporated,'' said James O'Sullivan, a senior economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, who accurately projected the decline in sales. ``Deflation is a word that will be increasingly used over the coming months.'' Spending may continue to falter as mounting job losses, plunging stocks and falling home values leave household finances in tatters. Retailers from Best Buy Co. to J.C. Penney Co. are cutting profit forecasts ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season, when many stores do most of their business. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said at a conference today in Frankfurt that continuing strains in financial markets and recent economic data ``confirm that challenges remain.'' The Fed chief said central bankers worldwide ``stand ready to take additional steps'' as warranted. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predict the Fed will lower its benchmark interest rate to a record 0.5 percent by March from the current 1 percent. Policy makers next gather in Washington Dec. 16. Stocks, Treasuries Stocks fell and Treasuries rose. The Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index dropped 1.8 percent to 894.09 at 10:11 a.m. in New York. Yields on benchmark 10-year notes fell to 3.75 percent from 3.85 percent late yesterday. The Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment was 57.9 in November compared with 57.6 last month. The measure averaged 85.6 in 2007. Retail sales were expected to fall 2.1 percent, according to the median forecast of 73 economists in a Bloomberg News survey. Purchases in September were revised down to show a 1.3 percent decrease compared with an originally reported 1.2 percent drop. ``The September-October credit jolt to the economy is showing up in all of the numbers now,'' Ellen Zentner, a senior U.S. macroeconomist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. ``We're expecting the worst recession, possibly, post-World War II.'' Worse Than Estimates Retailers have now logged the longest string of monthly declines since the Commerce Department's comparable data series began in 1992. Excluding automobiles, purchases decreased 2.2 percent, almost twice as much as the 1.2 percent decline anticipated and also the worst performance on record. Declines were broad based as furniture, electronics, clothing and department stores all showed loses. Demand at automobile dealerships and parts stores plunged 5.5 percent after falling 4.8 percent in September. Car sales are among the most affected as banks make it harder to borrow. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson this week said the government will shift the focus of the second half of the $700 billion rescue plan from buying mortgage assets to unclogging consumer credit. President-elect Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress are under pressure to push through another stimulus plan even before the new administration takes over. Filling-station sales decreased 13 percent, also the most ever, in part reflecting a $1-per-gallon drop in the average cost of gasoline. Excluding gas, retail sales fell 1.5 percent. Gain at Restaurants Sales at furniture, electronics, clothing, sporting goods and department stores were also among the losers. Restaurants, grocery stores and a miscellaneous category were the only areas that showed a gain. ``Since mid-September, rapid, seismic changes in consumer behavior have created the most difficult climate we've ever seen,'' Brad Anderson, chief executive officer of Best Buy, said in a Nov. 12 statement. The Richfield, Minnesota-based electronics chain said sales in the four months through February 2009 will decline more than it previously estimated. Rival Circuit City Stores Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection this week. Macy's Inc., Target Corp. and Gap Inc. were among the chains that reported same-store sales dropped in October, while shoppers searching for discounts on groceries gave sales a lift at Wal- Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer. Nordstrom yesterday cut its profit forecast for the third time this year. Worst Season J.C. Penney, the third-largest U.S. department-store company, today forecast earnings that trailed analysts' estimates and posted its fifth straight quarterly profit decline as shoppers cut spending on home goods and jewelry. Shoppers are pulling back as the labor market slumps. The unemployment rate jumped to 6.5 percent in October, the highest level since 1994. Employers cut more than a half million workers from payrolls in the past two months. The longest expansion in consumer spending on record ended last quarter, causing the economy to shrink at a 0.3 percent annual pace. The economic slump will intensify this quarter and persist into the first three months of 2009, making it the longest downturn since 1974-75, economists forecast in a Bloomberg survey conducted from Nov. 3 to Nov. 11. Excluding autos, gasoline and building materials, the retail group the government uses to calculate gross domestic product figures for consumer spending, sales decreased 0.5. The government uses data from other sources to calculate the contribution from the three categories excluded. To contact the reporter on this story: Shobhana Chandra in Washington [email protected]
  18. Quebec companies getting pummeled By Paul Delean December 12, 2008 Quebec’s economy supposedly is weathering current financial turbulence better than other parts of the country, but you’d never know it from the stock listings. Several publicly traded Quebec-based companies that used to have significant share valuations have plummeted below, or near, the dreaded dollar mark, in some cases becoming penny stocks. The 2008 Dollarama portfolio includes familiar names like AbitibiBowater, Quebecor World, Mega Brands, Garda World, Shermag, Hart Stores and Bikini Village. What happens from here is anybody’s guess. Once stocks start descending to these levels, getting back to past peaks really isn’t the issue anymore. Survival is. Institutional investors are leery. Several actually have a rule against buying shares priced below $5. “What matters are a corporation’s fundamentals, not the stock price. But often, they’re really bad when a company’s stock goes way down in price, and leave you wondering if it’s worth anything at all,” said Benj Gallander, co-author of information newsletter Contra The Heard, who’s been investing in out-of-favour stocks for 15 years with partner Ben Stadelmann. While takeovers are always a possibility, Gallander said companies that really get beaten up usually are not prime targets. “Companies are more likely to buy companies that are going really well, at ridiculous prices, than the ones that are struggling,” he said. What’s making this downturn especially challenging is the tightness of credit, Gallander said. Cash-strapped companies in need of fresh funds are having a harder time with lenders, and investors have cooled to new stock issues. “It used to be a lot easier (for companies) to go to the well and get cash. These days, the competition for funds is so fierce, and not as many people are willing to invest. Investors are more selective. They want to see clean balance sheets, and preferably dividends and distributions, not a lot of debt and a history of losses. Ongoing losses are very dangerous if you don’t have the cash to support it.” Montreal portfolio manager Sebastian van Berkom of van Berkom & Associates, a small-cap specialist, said there are decent stocks in the dollar range, but there are also an awful lot of highly speculative ones. “If someone had the intestinal fortitude to put together the best of these Dollarama stocks into a diversified portfolio of maybe 50-70 names, you’d probably end up doing pretty well. Ten per cent would go bust, 10 per cent would be 10 baggers (grow by tenfold), and the other 80 per cent would do better than the overall market,” he said. But since even the largest and strongest global companies have been battered by this year’s downdraft in equity markets, investors are understandably gravitating to those names, some now at prices unseen in decades. “In this kind of environment, why speculate at the low end when you can buy quality companies at the lowest price they’ve traded at in years? You don’t need to speculate, so why take the risk? That’s why some of the fallen angels have come down so much,” van Berkom said. Some of the deeply discounted companies undoubtedly won’t survive their current woes, Gallander said. The biotech sector, constantly in need of cash tranfusions, is especially vulnerable. “They may have great products in the pipeline,” he said, “but who’ll finance them?” While there is potential upside in some of the names, he considers it a bit early to start bargain-hunting. “I’d be wary of redeploying cash at this point. Even if you pay more (for stocks) in a year, there could be less downside risk if the economy’s in better shape. Personally, I don’t see things coming back for years. There’ll be lots of bargains for a long time.” Here’ are some of the downtrodden, and the challenges they face. AbitibiBowater Inc.: A $35 stock in 2007, AbitibiBowater is now trading around 50 cents. The heavily-indebted newsprint manufacturer recently reported a third-quarter loss of $302 million ($5.23 a share) on flat revenue. Demand is plunging around the world as the newspaper industry contracts in the face of competition from the internet In the U.S. alone, it’s fallen 20 per cent this year. Gallander is one of its unhappy shareholders; his purchase price, prior to the merger with Bowater, was $56.24. “We looked at getting out a few times, didn’t, and got absolutely killed,” he said. “At the current price, there’s huge potential upside, or the possibility in six months that it could be worthless.” Garda World: Investors did not take kindly to the global security firm’s surprise second-quarter loss of $1 million (3 cents a share) and revenue decline of 5.5 per cent. After years of rapid growth by acquisition, Garda – which reports third-quarter results Monday – is talking about selling off part of its business to repay its sizable debt. At about $1.20 a share (down from $26.40 in 2006), “it’s extremely speculative,” van Berkom said. “Rather than offering to buy parts of the business now, competitors may wait to see if it survives and then buy.” Mega Brands: The Montreal-based toy company had a prosperous business until it took over Rose Art Industries of Livingston, N.J., in a $350-million deal in 2005. Since then, it’s taken a huge hit from lawsuits and recalls of the Magnetix toy line it acquired in the Rose Art deal and the stock has plunged from $29.74 a share in 2006 to about 50 cents this week. The company lost $122 million in the third quarter (after writing down $150 million for “goodwill impairment”), just had its credit rating downgraded by Moody’s (which described 2009 prospects as “grim”) and now has to cope with a sharp decline in consumer spending for its peak selling season. Revenue has nonetheless held up relatively well so far, Gallander said, so this one could still be a turnaround candidate. Hart Stores: The smallish department store chain keeps adding to its 89-store Hart and Bargain Giant network in eastern Canada, but same-store sales have been slipping as consumers retrench. Profit in the last quarter was $757,000, down from $1.7 million the previous year. The stock’s dropped even more, closing this week around $1, down from $6.55 in 2006. But Gallander, who bought in at $3.46, still likes the company, which pays a dividend of 10 cents a year. “They’re facing a slowdown, which could hurt the bottom line and the distribution, but so’s everyone else. Few companies can be resilient in this kind of economy.” Groupe Bikini Village: All that remains of the former Boutiques San Francisco and Les Ailes de La Mode empire is 59 swimsuit stores generating quarterly sales of about $13 million and net earnings of less than $1 million. “Our company has come through some challenging times,” president Yves Simard said earlier this year, “and today, we are a stronger company for it.” You wouldn’t know it from the price of the 172 million outstanding shares. Friday, it was 3 cents. The 2008 range has been 10 to 2.5 cents. Boutiques San Francisco was a $32 stock in 2000. Kangaroo Media: It’s had plenty of media coverage for its handheld audio/video devices that allow spectators at NASCAR and Formula One auto races to follow and hear the action more closely, but only one profitable quarter since it went public four years ago. The company generated $2.2 million in sales and rentals in its most recent quarter, but lost $3.4 million (10 cents a share). Loss of Montreal’s Grand Prix race in 2009 won’t help. Shares got as high as $8.19 in 2006 but traded at 5 cents yesterday.. Victhom Human Bionics: Outstanding technology – a prosthetic leg that remarkably replicates human movement – but no significant sales yet spells trouble for the Quebec City company. It had revenue of $531,997 in its most recent quarter, most of it royalty advances, but a net loss of $3.3 million. Investors are losing patience. The stock, which traded at $2 in 2004, has tumbled to 3 cents. Quebecor World: One of the world’s largest commercial printers, it entered creditor protection in Canada and the U.S. last January and seems unlikely to emerge. It lost $63.6 million (35 cents a share) in the most recent quarter on revenue of $1 billion, which pushed the total loss after nine months to $289 million. The stock, as high as $46.09 in 2002, traded yesterday at 4 cents. Unless you buy for a nickel in the hope of getting out at 7 or 8 cents a share, this is probably one to avoid, said Gallander, who prefers to steer clear of companies in creditor protection. Shermag: Asian imports, a contracting U.S. housing market and rapid appreciation of the Canadian dollar pulled the rug out from under the Sherbrooke-based furniture maker, which experienced a 40-per-cent drop in sales in the past year, has lost money for the last 11 quarters and entered creditor protection in May. (It was extended this week to April). A $16 stock in 2003, it was down to 7 cents yesterday. “We looked at Shermag closely before (credit protection), but backed off. They’re good operators, but the way things are now in their business, they just can’t compete,” Gallander said. Railpower Technologies: The manufacturer of hydrid railway locomotives and cranes has a lot of expenses and not many customers, and the economic slowdown won’t help. It lost $7.1 million in the most recent quarter on sales of just $2.9 million. A $6.69 stock in 2005, it traded at 14 cents this week. Mitec Telecom: Revenue has been rising for the designer and manufacturer of components for the wireless telecommunications industry, but it’s still having trouble turning a profit. Through the first half of its current fiscal year, sales grew 63 per cent to $25 million, for a net loss of $1.1 million. The company, which went public in 1996 at $6.50 a share, traded yesterday at 6 cents. Management is doing a commendable job of trying to turn around the company, said Gallander, who has owned the stock for several years. “They seem to be doing the right things, but they’re not out of the woods yet. In normal times, they’d be doing better than now. But the telecom sector, too, will be hit.” [email protected] © Copyright © The Montreal Gazette
  19. CJAD This should be an interesting case to watch. We know that we are being screwed.
  20. By Brian Ker, Special to The Gazette The Gazette's panel of experts answer your questions on real estate. To ask a question, please email [email protected] There has been a lot of discussion recently regarding the bonanza of construction taking place in Montreal and certainly on these pages an inquisitive analysis of the quantity of condominium construction. We also hear about “the hot land market” and there are lots of questions as to its sustainability. I recently attended the Land and Development Conference in Toronto to determine the optimism in North America’s largest condominium market and compare that with what we have been witnessing here in Montreal as land values have rapidly increased over the past five years. In a hot market, land is not an asset but is priced more like a commodity: a raw material that is just one part of a final constructed product, including concrete, steel and labour. In a weak market, land values are more likely tied to its short-term income-producing potential, such as parking revenues less off-setting taxes. The rapidly diminishing land supply and a cultural shift toward urban living have lead to changes in the commercial land market. First, commercial land sales are principally divided between high- and low-density sites. High-density sites intended for office, hotel, mixed-use and multi-unit residential projects, while low-density sites incorporate retail, industrial and single-family home developments. The value of land is based on the total amount of density permitted on its property – a site permitting an office tower is considerably greater than a walkup row-house or an industrial facility – and the total volume of potential sales in a given year, which allow for larger projects. Restrictive zoning can adversely affect the site’s value, as can social-housing inclusions and lengthy, complicated and sometimes “out-of-control” zoning application processes that jeopardize a project’s economic vitality. On Montreal Island, the prevailing trend is that high-density sites are taking a larger market share of total land transaction sales volumes because of the increasing prominence of sales of larger development sites permitting significantly greater density, and higher pricing for each unit of density, also referred to as the price per square foot Buildable. Over the past five years, the value for each unit of density has doubled to an average price of approximately $30 per square foot buildable. This is primarily based upon the rapid increase (up to 50%) in values for condominiums during the same time period, and as such, sales of sites for residential projects have outpaced all other sectors. Developers will be happy to note that Montreal was the third-largest condominium market in North America in 2010, albeit in an aberration year for the U.S. housing market, and only trailing Toronto and Houston in overall condo starts. This buoyancy has been growing for some time as major developers have acquired land holdings to fuel future projects. Since October of 2008, there have been a 11 high-density development land transactions in the greater Montreal area that have traded above $5 million, with a total value of $148 million in high-density land sales. Major sales included the land for the Project Griffintown project, Angus Development in the Quartier des Spectacles, the Marianopolis site, the site for the Altoria project and most recently Prevel and Conceptions Rachel-Juilien acquiring the rights from Canada Lands to develop Les Bassins du Nouveau Havre for $20 million. These major land transactions were purchased by well-known, well-respected and well-capitalized condo developers, with the exception of the Angus Assembly and Altoria, both of which will feature a mix of office and condominium use. Mixed-use projects are becoming the new normal, as developers put forth projects that feature greater overall site density to decrease the effects of higher land prices or kick start existing larger projects with an exclusively residential component. For land values to continue their ascent, Montreal developers and buyers need to develop an attitude shift with regard to larger projects. The traditional condo developer logic is that it is nearly impossible to sell more than 150 units for a project in one sales year. The rationale for this is, typically, that Montrealers will not pay a deposit for a condo unit until substantial pre-sales have been achieved or it is under construction, as they are not willing to wait two to three years for delivery. Recent project launches, though, are challenging this traditional thinking, with buyers (or their agents) waiting in line overnight and first-day sell-outs occurring with regularity, or buyers are asked to place a “deposit” to reserve a unit without seeing final plans. Buyers can no longer sit back and cherry-pick the best unit, as it will probably be reserved before they arrive on the scene. In addition, unless condominiums continue to experience strong price increases, Montreal condo developers will be facing increasing pressure for prime sites from alternative uses, such as office towers, hotels, or institutional (Healthcare, Educational, Student Residence) projects, where demand is steadily growing. Finally, our municipal government needs to develop a more flexible zoning application process with regard to major urban projects and the need for public consultations. Politicians should rely on the counsel of independent experts, but are elected to make decisions, and voters should judge them on these decisions, good or bad, at the ballot-box. Montreal home and condo owners have benefited from the rapidly rising values of their residential real estate over the past five years. Although rising interest rates are on the horizon and will clearly dampen demand for condos for home ownership and as an investment vehicle, demand is increasing for alternate site uses. Land values have also seen a rapid ascent, particularly for high density sites, and the economic fundamentals support continued growth and greater liquidity in this particular market. Brian Ker is associate vice-president, National Investment Team, at CB Richard Ellis Limited. He can be reached at 514 905-2141 or by email at [email protected] Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/sustainable+Montreal+construction+bonanza/4889700/story.html#ixzz1OFFSPeAz
  21. (Courtesy of The Montreal Gazette. Article by SUSAN SEMENAK)
  22. Find out how these new developments managed to surviveBy KATHERINE DYKSTRA January 12, 2011 The developers of the 95-unit Griffin Court, on 10th Avenue between 53rd and 54th streets, have made no secret of the fact that they are giving the first 15 percent of their buyers a 15 percent discount. The reason? Let’s just say it’s no coincidence that getting contracts signed on 15 percent of the units is exactly what it will take in order to make the condo plan effective. “People would come in and ask how many we’ve sold,” says Ken Horn, president of Alchemy Properties, which is developing Griffin Court. The building came “softly” on the market in March of last year. “People would say, ‘When you have the plan effective, we’d be interested in buying.’ We realized that once we hit that 15 percent level, it [would be] amazing what happened with sales,” Horn adds. And so, after not moving a single unit in that first six months, Alchemy re-launched the sales of Griffin Court in September, initiating the 15 percent-off perk. Today, Alchemy has 15 contracts that are either signed or out for signature. “[Developers] who cut prices to get the pre-sales requirements are smart and will survive,” says Jonathan Miller, president of real estate appraisal firm Miller Samuel. Nothing is easy in today’s tough real estate market, a very different one than, say, four years ago — especially for new developments. To wit, in the second quarter of 2006, 57 percent of all Manhattan closings were on listings in new developments, according to Miller. Compare that to the most recently completed quarter, where only 21.6 percent of closings were in new development. This figure does, however, represent a stabilizing of new development sales, which have hovered in the low 20s for the last six quarters. The low point of 16.4 percent came at the beginning of 2010. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s harder than ever to sell buyers on new development. That’s largely because buyers fear buildings might never be finished (slow sales can lead to reneged financing, which in turn can lead to the dreaded “going rental” or remaining vacant). “Buyers are skeptical still that developers will finish their product. Buyers are really looking for things they can move into in six months,” says Steve Kliegerman, executive director of development marketing at Halstead Property. So, rather than attempt to unload units as soon as a floor plan has been settled on, many developers are waiting to launch sales until the building is nearly finished. That way, buyers can at least walk through a completed model unit. “Most developers are holding product off the market until it is more finished,” says Kliegerman, who launched sales at Gramercy 19 in October. At the time, the project was 55 percent finished in terms of construction; including the on-site sales office. The building’s studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments range from $500,000 to $2.4 million and average $1,400 a square foot. Though 12 contracts have been signed at Gramercy 19, Kliegerman decided to pull four units off the market to wait for their construction to be complete; he wants to show finished products, which he believes can fetch higher prices. Love Lane Mews, a 38-unit conversion in Brooklyn Heights, priced from $1.05 million for a 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom to $4.25 million for a 2,400-square-foot three-bedroom, launched sales in November. “We had planned to come to market earlier,” says Laurie Zucker, principal of Manhattan Skyline, which is developing the condo along with Sterling Equities. “It was a difficult construction . . . we thought we’d be on the market during the summer and early fall.” But rather than launch early and attempt to sell off of a floor plan, they held out until there was something for buyers to see. Zucker estimates construction will be complete within the next three to six months. “People aren’t buying from paper anymore, they want to see what they’re getting,” says Corcoran Sunshine Marketing’s Henry Hershkowitz, sales director for 123 Third Ave., a 47-unit condo building at 14th Street and Third Avenue, which came on the market just after Labor Day. “You don’t want to wait until it’s totally done; you just want the tools to sell it.” At 123 Third Ave., Hershkowitz has been able to put more than 80 percent of the units into contract. Condos start as low as $600,000 and go up to $4.525 million. “More than 50 percent [of the building is made up of] one-bedrooms,” Hershkowitz says. “They sold quickly. They’re all sold out.” “There has been some traction in the sense that there has been sales activity,” Miller says of the market overall. “A lot of it was circling around sub-million-dollar properties because that amount could go through Fannie or Freddie in conforming loans.” Of Griffin Court’s 95 units, 46 are below $1 million. Studios start at $625,000 and 681 square feet. “Three, four years ago, the units would go for 25 percent more, [but] our objective has been to price our units to be able to sell,” Horn says. Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/realestate/residential/go_LW7aAM0XPpHPzEzsr0YUwO#ixzz1Aw2q6rJN