Profit rebound continues at state’s banks
Maryland banking institutions racked up $85 million in profits through the first half of this year, according to new data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The lion’s share of those profits — $51 million — came in the second quarter.
That second-quarter total was more than the $42 million in profits reported in the entire first six months of 2011. And the number of reporting institutions as of June 30 — 81 — was smaller than the 86 in the prior-year period.
The higher profits were accompanied by a slighter larger average work force: Maryland institutions had an average of 88.9 full-time equivalent employees through the first six months of this year, up from 88.5 a year earlier.
The most recent numbers mark a continued turnaround from the first half of 2010, when the state’s institutions reported a combined net loss of $3 million. A year before that, in the first half of 2009, during the tail end of the Great Recession, Maryland’s institutions lost a combined $73 million.
Still, the state’s banks have a long way to go before they reach the level of their pre-recession profits, which totaled $298 million through the first half of 2007.
The new state numbers mirror the national trend. All told, U.S. institutions reported a profit of $69.31 billion through the first six months of 2012, up from $57.33 billion a year earlier.
Foreclosure sales fall off in second quarter
Sales of foreclosed homes accounted for 10.6 percent of all home sales in Maryland in the second quarter, according to new data from RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif.
All told, 2,053 such sales were reported in the quarter. That was down 8.6 percent from the first quarter and 56.9 percent from the second quarter of 2011.
The national average was more than double Maryland’s in the second quarter: 22.8 percent.
The average sales price of the state’s foreclosure sales in the second quarter was $175,389, a 39.6 percent discount. The national averages were $170,040 and 31.7 percent, respectively.
Prince George’s County had the most and highest percentage of foreclosure sales in Maryland: 689 sales, or 33.6 percent of all such sales in the state, representing 24.7 percent of all home sales in the county.
Smiths Detection expands Edgewood facility
A British company that produces technologies to detect explosives, chemicals, narcotics and other contraband has expanded its Edgewood operations and moved its U.S. headquarters there, consolidating its administrative functions from a New Jersey office. .
In the last few years, Smiths Detection invested more than $8.5 million in the Harford County facility, expanding it by more than 100,000 square feet to accommodate manufacturing of its X-ray, bagging screening and scanning devices, according to a company statement. The company also increased its local work force by more than 25 percent to about 225, and plans to add about 100 more workers during the next 18 months, according to spokeswoman Dana Knox-Gower.
Its parent, Smiths Group, has about 23,000 employees, including more than 9,000 in the U.S., where it operates at about 100 sites in 40 states.
“Growing our Maryland footprint gives us the opportunity to work more closely with core customers in and around Washington, D.C., whose mission is homeland security and to aid in safeguarding citizens, troops, airports, ports, and borders around the world,” Lance Roncalli, U.S. managing director for Smiths, said in the statement.
Smiths also reported winning a $7.6 million contract from the Navy for mobile, truck-mounted weather information systems for Marine Corps planning and operations.
Smiths’ supplier base includes more than 80 Maryland companies, many of which are small businesses, according to the company. Its major customers include federal and state governments.
Women’s business plan contest honors entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs who have developed a sensory shield, social media platform, optician business and online portal for parents and children's camps were winners in the Rockville Economic Development Inc.'s ninth annual StartRight! Women’s Business Plan Competition, announced at Thursday's Women’s Power Conference in North Bethesda.
The $5,000 first-place prize in the general business category went to Lisa Daly, CEO of Sensory Shield of Rockville. Daly developed a lightweight, portable device to help people create protected personal space; it is especially designed for people with sensory processing issues.
Anne Balduzzi, founder of SameGrain of Baltimore, won the $6,000 first-place prize in the technology business category. SameGrain helps people anonymously locate and connect with others who share similar demographics, backgrounds, interests, beliefs, health or life experiences.
Brooke Salkoff, president of CampEasy of McLean, Va., won the $2,500 second-place prize in the technology business category. The company's online product helps parents find children’s camps that match interests and schedules.
Also, a $2,500 second-place cash prize in the general business plan category went to Maria Higgins, owner of Unique Optique of Frederick.
SEC sanctions former Legg Mason executive
Federal regulators have sanctioned a former Legg Mason executive for altering financial and other records.
Frances M. Guggino was CFO and treasurer of fixed income funds advised by the Baltimore company’s Partners Fund Advisor when she altered a mutual fund’s trial balance and board minute meetings in an attempt to convince other Legg Mason executives that the fund had received an advancement when it had not, according to a statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Guggino was ordered to cease and desist from such violations and to pay a civil penalty of $15,000. She also was barred from associating with brokers, dealers and other investment professionals, or working or advising registered investment companies.
Guggino consented to the order without admitting or denying any of the findings, according to the SEC.
Fed survey points to ‘modest’ activity
Business activity in Maryland increased at a “modest pace” in August, according to the annual survey by the Federal Reserve of Richmond, Va.
The general business activity index registered 9, down from 14 in July, while the sales index dropped to minus-5 from 2. Business spending on services was weak, but capital expenditures rose moderately for a second straight month.
More respondents said they expanded their work force than cut it. Expectations for activity in the near future declined but remained positive, with one-third of respondents anticipating greater business activity six months from now, down from 53 percent in April.
The survey is sent to 160 representative business contacts, with about 75 usually responding.