HOV BEATS OUTLOOK — IN WRONG DIRECTION

Img_9341File photo of the company’s headquarters overlooking the Navesink River. (Click to enlarge)

Homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises slashed its net loss in its latest fiscal quarter, but still produced more red ink than Wall Street analysts were expecting, according to Bloomberg.

The Red Bank-based company racked up $72.9 million in losses in the period that ended July 31, largely owing to the expiration of a federal tax credit for homebuyers.

A year earlier, Hovnanian reported a net loss of $168.9 million.

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ADMITTED SCAMMER GETS SEVEN YEARS

hot-topic rightForty-one-year-old financial advisor Stephen Severio of Fair Haven was sentenced to seven years in prison Friday after admitting that he defrauded clients out of more than $700,000, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Many of the 34 clients Severio admitting bilking were elderly, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office, which handled the case.

According to the Press, Severio’s lawyer, Mitchell Ansell:

described Severio as a gambling addict and otherwise law-abiding citizen who lost his career and family, and ultimately all the money, due to his addiction.”What fuels him is in no way an excuse for what he did,” Ansell said.

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HOV POSTS ANOTHER QUARTERLY LOSS

Img_9341Hovnanian’s headquarters overlooking the Navesink River at Maple Cove. (Click to enlarge)

The misery isn’t over at Red Bank-based national homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises, despite a brief return to the black two quarters back.

The company reported a net loss of $28.6 million in its second fiscal quarter, which ended April 30,  compared with $118.6 million loss a year earlier.

In its first quarter, the company was profitable for the first time after more than four years of losses. Hovnanian has now lost money in 14 of the last 15 quarters.

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ABOVE BROAD STREET, A WALL STREET SHAKER

hot-topic rightTwo major newspapers take a peek today into the world of technology-driven stock trading— and its connection to a whipsaw drop and rebound in prices earlier this month — by spotlighting a little-known Red Bank firm called Tradeworx.

In “humdrum” offices above the Restoration Hardware store on Broad Street, reporter New York Times Julie Crewell writes in a front-page story, “workers in their 20s and 30s in jeans and T-shirts quietly tend high-speed computers that typically buy and sell 80 million shares a day.”

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FAIR HAVEN BROKER COPS TO $700K SCAM

authorities2aA stockbroker from Fair Haven is looking at seven years in prison under the terms of a plea deal he accepted yesterday for pocketing nearly $700,000 he swindled from 31 clients, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced yesterday.

Here’s the text of a press release from the office of Prosecutor Luis Valentin:

On February 16, 2010, Stephen Severio, 40, of Fair Haven, N.J., appeared in Monmouth County Superior Court and pled guilty to criminal charges contained in two indictments and one accusation. The charges relate to thefts Severio committed against his clients while he was employed as a financial advisor for Merrill Lynch.

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HOV REVENUE FELL BY HALF IN 2009

Hov_hq_81206Hovnanian’s Red Bank HQ, as seen from the foot of Maple Avenue.

Hovnanian Enterprises reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $250.8 million yesterday.

That’s down from a net loss of $450.5 million in the final fiscal quarter of 2008, the Red Bank-based homebuilder disclosed.

In announcing its results, the publicly traded company said revenue in the quarter fell to $437.4, from $721.4 a year earlier. For the full year, revenue fell by half, to $1.6 billion, from $3.3 billion.

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MONEY MAN ADMITS TO STATE FRAUD CHARGES

authorities3One day after he pleaded guilty to federal charges arising from an $8 million investment scam, Fair Haven resident Maxwell Smith was in state court Wednesday, owning up to more allegations.

The 69-year-old former financial adviser at Cantone Research in Tinton Falls faces up to 15 years on the state charges when he’s sentenced on March 5, according to an announcement from the office of Attorney General AnnE Milgram.

He faces a 20-year sentence on related federal charges, to which he pleaded guilty on Tuesday, and is scheduled for sentencing in that case on February 26. Under a “global resolution” worked out between prosecutors and Smith’s lawer, the sentences will be served concurrently.

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FAIR HAVEN MAN ADMITS $8 MILLION SCAM

authorities2aMaxwell Smith, a 69-year-old financial advisor and Fair Haven resident, pleaded guilty to fraud charges yesterday, admitting he stole at least $8 million from clients.

He faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton on February 26. Meantime, he’s free on $1 million bail, according to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark.

Smith, who worked at Cantone Research in Tinton Falls until last April, admitted to Cooper that he set up a phony investment fund that purportedly had $300 million under management as a means of attracting investments from clients.

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MERRILL BROKER INDICTED FOR FRAUD

authorities2bA former broker at the Red Bank office of Merrill Lynch was indicted by a Monmouth County grand jury yesterday on charges that he swindled $500,000 from more than two dozen clients.

Forty-year-old Steven Severio of Fair Haven is alleged to have persuaded  investors to cash out of some holdings and roll over the proceeds into new investments, for which he promised returns to 15 to 20 percent, according to a statment issued by Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin.

Instead, Severio desposited the funds into his own account, without making any investments. In some cases, he cashed the checks at a local check-cashing service, Valentin said.

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HOV POSTS 12TH CONSECUTIVE NET LOSS

hov-hq-8-12-06Hovnanian’s HQ, at the foot of Maple Avenue in Red Bank.

Homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises has notched its third straight year in red ink, according to data released Wednesday.

The glimmer of good news for investors in and employees of the Red Bank-based company is that the latest quarterly deficit was smaller than the one recorded a year earlier.

For its third fiscal quarter, ended July 31, Hovnanian said it lost $168.9 million, down from $202.5 million in the comparable 2008 period.

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STAPLES TO LAND IN RED BANK’S IN-BOX

staples-broad-stThe big-box retailer will lease a space less than a quarter the size of its average store at 137-139 Broad Street.

Rcsm2_010508Staples Inc., the big-box office supply retailer, is coming to Red Bank.

But the giant seller of everything from pens to desktop computers won’t be opening one of its warehouse-sized stores here. Instead, it’ll be trying out a relatively new micro store, dubbed Staples Copy & Print, that will feature the services of the print shops in the big-box Staples plus the top 1,000 items available on their shelves.

Jay Herman, principal of site owner Downtown Investors LLC, tells redbankgreen that Staples has signed a lease for 4,000 square feet at 137-139 Broad Street, three doors up from the intersection of Harding Road.

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FAIR HAVEN MAN FACES PONZI CHARGES

Hot TopicA Fair Haven investment adviser who is reported to have a villa in France was charged in federal court in Newark today with running a Ponzi scheme, the Star-Ledger is reporting.

The criminal allegations against Maxwell Smith follow earlier allegations in a civil suit that Smith had swindled $9 million from a now 93-year-old client over a decade, and that Smith had admitted to the wrongdoing.

The federal case alleges Smith stole $7 million by selling investments in health care facilities and promising returns of up to 9 percent, the Sledger reports. But instead of investing the money, prosecutors said Smith deposited it into his own bank account, using a small amount to pay interest to clients, the newspaper reports.

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FAIR HAVEN MAN NAMED IN ALLEGED SCAM

Call in the authoritiesA Morris County judge today froze the assets of a Fair Haven investment adviser who is alleged to have swindled an elderly client out of $9 million over a decade, according to reports by the Star-Ledger and Morristown’s Daily Record.

Superior Court Judge Theodore Bozonelis today ordered Marshall Smith not to transfer any of his assets pending further notice.

According to a civil suit filed by Leonard Frederick, his 93-year-old client, Smith was fired from his job at Cantone Research Inc. in Tinton Falls earlier this month afer admitting to his employer that he had sold Frederick non-existent financial investments over the prior decade.

The suit also names Smith’s wife, Holly, as a defendant. Monmouth County records show the Smiths own a property on Fair Haven’s Kemp Avenue assessed at $894,200.

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HOVNANIAN POSTS NINTH LOSING QUARTER

HovHOV HQ on West Front Street, Red Bank.

A near stoppage in mortgage lending drove Hovnanian Enterprises to its ninth consecutive quarterly loss in the period ending October 31, the Red Bank-based homebuilder reported yesterday.

According to Bloomberg, the loss was more than three times the deficit that analysts had expected.

For Hovnanian and its shareholders, the upside was that the latest loss, at $450.5 million, or $5.79 a share, was smaller than the $466.6 million, or $7.42 a share, deficit of the comparable year-prior period.

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HOV SALES TAKE HUGE SLIDE

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Homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises, based in Red Bank,posted its eighth consecutive quarter in the red, reporting a net loss of $202.5 million for the fiscal quarter ended July 31.

The loss equated to $2.67 per share, compared with a loss $1.27 per share, or a total $80.5 million, in the year-ago third quarter. Analysts had predicted a loss of $1.68 per share, Reuters reported.

Revenue plummeted by 37 percent, to $716.5 million, from $1.1 billion in the comparable 2007 period, as Hovnanian, the nation’s sixth-largest homebuilder, has tracked the industry trend of losses in the worst real esate market in decades. Thirty-two percent of the company’s contracted buyes canceled their deals in the quarter.

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GOOCH TAKES AIM AT EX-COLLEAGUE

Gooch_1

Rumson billionaire Mickey Gooch and his partners are suing a former employee of their Wall Street brokerage for allegedly poaching 22 staffers while still at the firm, the Asbury Park Press reports.

In their suit against Donald Fewer of Colts Neck, Gooch and his partners claim damages of $220 million as a result of a drop in the price of GFI Group shares when news of the mass exodus hit the street.

From the Press:

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in Monmouth County, said Fewer joined GFI as head of the credit derivatives trading desk in 1996 and was made a senior managing director in 2000, entitling him to millions worth of stock options.

But in January 2005, after GFI went public, the company named another partner, Colin Heffron, president, and Fewer became resentful, the lawsuit contends.

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HOVNANIAN SLAMMED AGAIN

Img_9341The company’s headquarters overlooking the Navesink River.

Red Bank-based national homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises saw its second-quarter losses increase elevenfold from last year as land valuations and revenues plunged again amid what Dow Jones calls “the worst housing downturn since the Great Depression.”

Still, as the company reported its seventh consecutive net loss, chairman and CEO Ara Hovnanian said the business has “ample liquidity to weather the current downturn,” thanks to a recent refinancing and other measures.

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R-FH FIVE TAKE ON EUROPE, AND WIN

Img_6864The R-FH Euro challengers: from left, Sam Wilson, Robbie Trocchia, Margot Keale, Steven Fuschetti and Jennifer Lapp.

If you think understanding the U.S. economy is a brain-buster, try overlaying its complexity with currency exchange rates, European history and social trends unique to a post-Cold War continent.

That, in a thumbnail, was the starting point for five sophomores from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High who competed as a team in something called the Euro Challenge last month.

Euro

Then they had to develop their teamwork, public speaking and time-management skills, preparing themselves to answer arcane questions under the gun about the “decoupling” of the U.S. and European economies, among other arcane topics.

This for a group of kids who didn’t know their CPI from their GDP at the start of the school year.

Well, cutting to the chase: after two grueling and nerve-wracking days of competition, the R-FH team took first place among 47 teams from seven states in a final held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in late April.

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HOV IMPROVES CASH FLOW

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Hovnanian Enterprises says it is tripling its forecast for positive cash flow this year to $300 million from earlier “guidance” given to investors.

The announcement came with this morning’s report by the publicly traded homebuilder, based here in Red Bank, that it had achieved positive cash flow in the just-completed second fiscal quarter, one quarter ahead of expectations.

The focus on stanching a loss of cash comes as Hovnanian, like most players in its sector, struggles with one of the worst housing markets in a generation.

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RED BANK MAN INDICTED IN ICED TEA SCAM

Call_in_the_authorities

A man said by authorities to be a Red Bank resident was indicted today for swindling $161,000 from an investor in an iced tea company that turned out to be bogus, according to an announcement by the New Jersey Attorney General, Anne Milgram.

Indicted by a Mercer County Grand Jury was 56-year-old Steven Conni, no street address given. He was changed with second-degree theft by deception. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of $150,000.

From a press release issued by Milgram’s office:

The indictment alleges that between November 2003 and December 2004, Conni solicited
investments totaling about $161,000 from a New Jersey resident by promising him ownership
shares in a company called Long Island Iced Tea Inc. and distribution rights for its iced tea
beverage for the entire state of New Jersey.

Conni allegedly told the investor that as a “master
distributor,” he would receive promotional materials, sales support, a 10 percent cut of revenue
from distributors signed up in each county in New Jersey, and $1 on every case of product sold
by those distributors. The victim never received any of the promised benefits. He has demanded
a refund, but has not received any payments from Conni.

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OVERSEAS SALES DRIVE TIFFANY GAINS

Garmany2c

Much as it was for other retailers, the late-2007 holiday shopping season was tough one for Tiffany & Co., which opened a store in Red Bank just as the season was kicking off.

But even as its fourth-quarter profit shrank, the New York-based jewelry and tchotchke merchant’s performance exceeded the expectations of market analysts, the Associated Press reports today.

Tiffany disclosed that its November-through-January sales rose 10 percent, thanks to a 21-percent increase overseas. Domestic sales rose 4 percent, the company reported.

From the AP:

The jewelry retailer said Monday it earned $118.3 million, or 89 cents per share, down from $140.5 million, or $1.02 per share last year. Excluding one-time charges, profit was $1.27 per share, above the $1.21 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected.

One-time items include a charge of 22 cents per share for loans to Tahera Diamond Corp., which sought protection from creditors in January.

Tiffany’s revenue rose 10 percent to $1.05 billion from $958.9 million last year, matching analysts’ predictions.

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HEY, THE APPROVAL WAS THE HARD PART

Courtyards_at_monmouthThe Courtyard at Monmouth project, which exists only on paper, is on the block.

Little more than a week after he won approval for plan to transform a grubby corner of Red Bank into a little hunk ‘o Hoboken, would-be developer George Coffenberg has put the project on the market for $7.5 million.

The listing hit the Multiple Listing Service yesterday, nine days after the planning board gave the condo project a thumbs-up.

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HOV SLUMP EXTENDS WITH $131M LOSS

Hovnanian_new

Red Bank-based Hovnanian Enterprises reported its sixth consecutive quarterly loss yesterday, this time a $131 million shortfall that was double the year-prior amount.

The publicly traded homebuilder, which operates in 19 states, managed to sell more units in its lastest fiscal quarter — 3,604 homes, up 10 percent from a year ago — but at lower average prices, the company disclosed. As a result, quarterly revenue fell 6.2 percent to $1.09 billion, from $1.17 billion.

From the Associated Press:

“Market conditions remain challenging across many of our markets,” President and Chief Executive Ara K. Hovnanian said in a statement.

The company will continue to reduce inventories, maximize cash flow and shrink overhead, he said.

“Despite the persistence of negative factors impacting the homebuilding industry, we are diligently working to position the company to take advantage of the stronger demand for new homes that will inevitably return once the current housing correction ends,” Hovnanian said.

He did not suggest when that might occur.

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FRAUD BY LINCROFT ADVISOR ALLEGED

A Jackson Township woman who ran a Lincroft investment advisory firm has been indicted on charges she bilked clients out of $641,000.

Call_in_the_authorities

Zina Martin, 43, was the sole owner and president of Kairos Financial, whose address is given as 331 Newman Springs Road in a press release from the office of New Jersey Attorney General Anne Millgram.

The indictment alleges Martin solicited the money from about 25 investors through marketing for six investment funds called the “Kairos Funds,” which turned out to be fictitious. She also issued monthly statements informing investors of the amounts they purportedly held in each of the funds, the state alleges.

In reality, the nvestor monies were commingled in a brokerage account of Kairos Financial. Martin allegedly used funds from that account for personal expenses, including mortgage payments, monthly living expenses and the purchase of a Cadillac Escalade, the indictment alleges.

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