Thursday, July 3, 2008

Airline service hobbled by rising fuel prices

High fuel prices could mean major reductions in airline service at the Colorado Springs Airport, according to an analysis published late last month by the Pennsylvania-based Business Travel Coalition.

The group ranked the Springs as one of the 50 large markets most likely to lose some or all air service as a result of higher fuel prices. Among the factors making airports vulnerable to higher prices are proximity to other airports with low-fare service, airline mergers, previous fluctuations in airline service, widespread use of regional jets, service from regional carriers that are at risk of losing their contracts with major airlines.

“The fuel crisis is having an impact beyond the gas pump and is now likely to cause irreparable harm to businesses large and small through a significant reduction in air service,” Kevin Mitchell, chairman and founder of the coalition, said in a news release. “Liquidations at major airlines would have catastrophic effects on the economy, reduce services in cities large and small and impact people in Colorado Springs.”

An earlier study by the group estimated that at current fuel prices, airlines would have to boost fares another 21 percent to 24 percent and cut flight capacity by 18 percent to 20 percent, eliminating between 74,000 and 84,000 jobs.

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Skyrocketing fuel prices eat mine's profits

Having a hard time dealing with rising fuel prices?

Be glad you’re not trying to pay the fuel bills for Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co., which operates a fleet of 10 300-ton dump trucks that haul gold ore from its open-pit mine between Cripple Creek and Victor to a nearby crushing facility. Each of the mine’s trucks burn three-quarters of a gallon of diesel fuel a minute, which means each truck uses more than $200 in fuel during an hour of operation. That’s about $50,000 a day for the fleet.

Skyrocketing fuel prices have increased the cost of producing gold at the mine by a third during the past year, said Larry Newcomer, general manager of Cripple Creek & Victor Gold. Every $1 increase in the cost of a barrel of oil increases the cost of producing an ounce of gold at the mine by about $1. That means the cost of gold being mined now will be more than $400 an ounce when it completes the production process in two years.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the mine’s parent company, AngoGold Ashanti Ltd., hadn’t sold off much of the mine’s production under hedging contracts at $450-$550 an ounce. That means gold produced at more than $400 an ounce will barely produce a profit and might even result in a loss depending on how much higher fuel prices climb in coming months.

“Four years ago, we were paying 85 cents a gallon for fuel and now we paying $4 a gallon. The price of gold hasn’t kept up,” Newcomer said, noting gold prices have gone up a little more than a third as fast as fuel prices during the same period.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

COPT buys Northrop building

Corporate Office Properties Trust, a Maryland-based real estate company, added to its local holdings Tuesday by paying $23.2 million for the Northrop Grumman building that opened in May in the Cresterra business park at the Colorado Springs Airport.
The 124,305-square-foot building, southeast of Powers Boulevard and the Milton E. Proby Parkway, houses 400 of Northrop Grumman’s 1,150 local employees. City officials selected Corporate Office Properties Trust last year as the business park’s master developer.
The company now owns 15 office buildings in the Springs, totaling 1 million square feet. It also is building three office buildings with 232,000 square feet, developing two others with 235,000 square feet and owns 192 acres that could accommodate 2.5 million square feet of space.

State releases new data on hospital infections

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has released new data on hospital-acquired infections for Memorial and Penrose Hospitals. The information is available online at
The semi-annual bulletin shows the first six months of data collected from a new reporting system established by a state law approved in 2006. Hospital-acquired infections, infections that occur during or after treatment for a different condition, usually occur when medical procedures such as a central line, a type of catheter placed near the heart, introduce infections into the bloodstream.
Memorial Health System’s central hospital and Penrose-St. Francis’s Health Services’ central hospital, the only two listed in the bulletin, both ranked average. Additional reports will be released later this year.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Simtek tells shareholders "process is still very much alive"

More than two months after Simtek Corp. turned down a $36.4 million acquisition offer from Cypress Semiconductor Corp., stockholders are still waiting for news about what comes next.
Simtek Chairman Robert Pearson told stockholders at the company’s June 19 annual meeting in Colorado Springs that “the process is still very much alive and we are actively working with our (financial) advisers,” but declined to answer questions.
The company released a statement last week that it continues to “explore various strategic alternatives in order to maximize long-term value for stockholders” and it continues to “actively work on such alternatives with our advisors,” but offered no specifics on what those alternatives might be or when it might choose one of the options.
Simtek hired Palo Alto, Calif.-based Pagemill Partners LLC in February to evaluate its “strategic options.”
Simtek turned down a $2.20-a-share offer in April from Cypress, one of its largest shareholders, saying it “significantly undervalued” the company.
Simtek’s stock fell Tuesday to a five-year low of $1.70 before rallying back to $1.86 on Wednesday

CSHP names new CEO

Deborah L. Chandler has been named executive vice president and chief executive officer of Colorado Springs Health Partners, the city’s largest physician-owned practice said Monday. Chandler previously served as chief executive of Anchor Health Centers in Florida. CSHP has 90 physicians and 11 locations.

Longtime banker on way back to Springs

Four years after he sold First National Bank of Colorado Springs to a Nebraska holding company, Rob Alexander is on his way back into the Colorado Springs banking industry.
State Bank of Bartley, a Nebraska institution of which Alexander is chairman and co-owner, is acquiring one of two Colorado banking charters of the Evans-based Bank of Choice as a way for it to expand to Colorado Springs, where it will operate as Stockmens Bank, Alexander said.
The move still requires approval by Nebraska and federal regulators, but could happen in as few as three months, he said.
State Bank, which has $35 million in assets, already operates a lending office with five employees in downtown Colorado Springs and will convert it into a full-service banking branch if it gets the required approvals, Alexander said. The bank would focus mostly on business lending, he said.
An investor group led by Alexander sold First National to Nebraska-based Pinnacle Bancorp Inc., which operates in Colorado as Bank of Colorado, after making it El Paso County’s fastest-growing financial institution during the previous five years.
He began his banking career at what is now Chase Bank and later started a lending firm he eventually sold to Wells Fargo & Co