Harrisburg has 14 renters per vacant apartment, report says

Having trouble finding an apartment in the Harrisburg area? Join the club. In RentCafe’s latest Competitivity Report of the nation’s 137 rental hotspots, Harrisburg ranks first as the most competitive small rental market, with less than 4% of units available.

The 96.2% occupancy rate makes apartment hunters feel like they’re “looking for a needle in a haystack,” the report said.

Nationally, the rental occupancy rate is 94%. Last year at this time it was 95.1%.

On average, there are 14 renters per vacant apartment in the Harrisburg metro; the U.S. average is nine. Available units on average are filled within 41 days.

With no new apartments coming into the pipeline recently and very limited options to choose from, 76.9% of those renting in greater Harrisburg preferred not to move this rental season.

That’s significantly higher than the 59.7% on average nationally who renewed their leases. A year ago, 65.6% of renters renewed leases.

Based on these metrics, RentCafe calculated a Rental Competitivity Index for Harrisburg of 123 out of 130, indicating a highly competitive market. For comparison, Philadelphia’s RCI score is 66. Also making the top 10 among competitive small markets is the Lehigh Valley, at No. 7.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

ACNB Corp. sets earnings record in 2022

Gettysburg-based ACNB Corp., the financial holding company for ACNB Bank and ACNB Insurance Services Inc., announced record financial results for 2022.

ACNB posted net income of $35.752 million, an increase of $7.918 million, or 28.45%, compared with 2021. This year-over-year increase was primarily driven by increases in net interest income of $12.181 million and commissions from insurance sales of $2.156 million.

The corporation reported net income of $10.199 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2022, an increase of 126.90% compared with the fourth quarter of 2021.

“We, at ACNB Corp., are extremely pleased to report another year of record earnings for 2022 totaling more than $35 million,” James P. Helt, ACNB president and CEO, said in a release. “This corporate achievement was not anticipated at the start of the year, but neither were the economic conditions that evolved during the year. In response to inflationary pressures, the unprecedented actions of the Federal Reserve resulted in seven interest rate hikes beginning in March of 2022 for a fed funds target rate range of 4.25% to 4.50% at the end of the year.”

The steep interest rate changes during the year pushed the fed funds rate to its highest point since December 2007, he noted. “These interest rate increases were a major contributor to ACNB Corp.’s 2022 earnings performance as assets repriced more quickly than liabilities, which coupled with asset growth resulted in strong net interest income performance.”

“Despite these unusual and unprecedented economic times,” Helt said, the corporation completed key strategic initiatives planned for 2022, including the acquisition by ACNB Insurance Services Inc. of the business and assets of Hockley & O’Donnell Insurance Agency in Gettysburg in February and the opening of the new Upper Adams Office in Biglerville in October as ACNB Bank continued its plans for optimization of the community banking network.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Migration report shows Lancaster and Hershey attracting new residents

Bucking a statewide trend, two central Pennsylvania cities/towns are seeing more people moving in than out so far this year.

Lancaster and Hershey rank first and second in moveBuddha’s 2021-2022 Pennsylvania Migration Report, with search data showing 159 moves into Lancaster for every 100 moves out.

The info was collected from Jan. 1 to Oct. 10 of this year, encompassing searches nationwide by individuals who were planning to move themselves or hire a moving company in 2022.

For its report, moveBuddha looked at only cities or towns with at least 25 inbound and 25 outbound searches, identifying 55 in Pennsylvania that were the most popular.

While Lancaster came in a clear first, Hershey edged out Kennett Square for second, with 132 moves in for every 100 moves out.

The vast majority of cities and towns on the list, however – 38 of 55 – showed the opposite trend.

A blog post on moveBuddha said Pennsylvania has the 13th worst migration ratio of the 50 states so far in 2022, with 83 people arriving for every 100 leaving.

What makes Lancaster a destination, moveBuddha said, is its history and diversity, plus its proximity to the more rural areas of the county. “It provides more space for folks looking to leave the denser Philly metro area,” for example.

Hershey was praised for its small-town atmosphere, which “is attractive to many.”

Some other highlights from the report:

· Florida is the top destination for those moving out of the commonwealth, followed by California, Texas, North Carolina and New York. One possible factor cited for Florida’s top ranking is its lack of income tax.

· Lebanon, Levittown, Monroeville, Norristown and Pottstown are all seeing two times more moves headed out than in this year.

· Over the past few years, Pennsylvania has seen negative net migration. Better job opportunities in other states and the shift to remote work are cited as potential reasons.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

New report outlines PA climate goals

A new report on Pennsylvania’s climate goals outlines a road map for the state to capitalize on its competitive edge in energy production and industrial manufacturing.

Successful Deployment of Carbon Management and Hydrogen Economies in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was authored by Minnesota-based non-profit, Great Plains Institute, and released last week by the Team Pennsylvania Foundation in Harrisburg.

The report’s findings, recommendations, and implications were discussed at the Global Clean Energy Action Forum, hosted by the Team Pennsylvania Foundation and held in Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 23.

Abby Smith, Team Pennsylvania Foundation’s President & CEO, said hydrogen and carbon capture offer much to Pennsylvania’s workers, communities, environment, and economy. “Ultimately, it will take the courage to have some difficult discussions about our priorities if Pennsylvania intends to be a leader in the energy transition. Team Pennsylvania is committed to doing our part as conveners to accelerate the needed policy approaches to create and preserve jobs while reducing our carbon footprint.”

Pennsylvania is ideally suited to invest in emerging hydrogen and carbon capture economy, due largely to the state’s energy resources, geology, labor force, and cross-sector partnerships.

To realize a new era in low carbon energy, Pennsylvania still faces significant policy obstacles identified by the Team Foundation report and GPI.

This summer, Team Pennsylvania Foundation announced the Pennsylvania Energy Horizons Cross-Sector Collaborative, a partnership of energy stakeholder organizations across the state.

Aimed at decarbonizing the state’s economy and accelerating its economic growth, the Cross-Sector Collaborative has brought together more than 50 public, private, and non-governmental organizations committed to leveraging CCUS and hydrogen technology. The collaborative’s participants include the PA Chamber of Business and Industry and Lehigh University.

Matt Fry, a senior policy manager for GPI’s Carbon Management program, is the primary author of the outline on carbon management and hydrogen development in Pennsylvania.

“GPI is proud of the steps that Team Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Energy Horizons Cross-Sector Collaborative have taken to help prepare Pennsylvania for the deployment of carbon management and hydrogen technologies,” Fry said. “This work has the potential to boost the state’s economy and provide the commonwealth with sustainable jobs, all while achieving significant emissions reductions in line with the state’s decarbonization goals.”

Building on the momentum driving these issues, the Cross-Sector Collaborative has said it will act on the road map’s recommendations. It will also seek to show the existence of solid relationships between the sectors and how these relationships can work together to benefit Pennsylvanians by providing jobs, economic growth, and environmental justice.

US existing-home sales decline for the fifth straight month

Across the country, existing-home sales in June fell for the fifth consecutive month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.12 million, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.

That figure was down 5.4% from May and 14.2% from June 2021.

Meanwhile, the median existing-home sales price rose 13.4% from a year ago to $416,000, a record high. This marks 124 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest streak on record.

The median price in the Northeast – a region that includes central Pennsylvania – was $453,300, a 10.1% jump from one year ago.

“Falling housing affordability continues to take a toll on potential homebuyers,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a release. “Both mortgage rates and home prices have risen too sharply in a short span of time.” According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 5.52% in June, up from 5.23% in May. The average commitment rate in 2021 was 2.96%.

The national inventory of unsold existing homes (a category that includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops) was 1.26 million by the end of June, which would take three months to sell at the current monthly sales pace.

Properties remained on the market 14 days on average in June, the fewest since the association began tracking this number in May 2011. Last month, 88% of homes sold were on the market less than a month.

“Finally, there are more homes on the market,” Yun added. “Interestingly though, the record-low pace of days on market implies a fuzzier picture on home prices. Homes priced right are selling very quickly, but homes priced too high are deterring prospective buyers.”

First-time buyers were responsible for 30% of sales last month, up from 27% in May and down from 31% in June 2021.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 16% of homes in June.

“If consumer price inflation continues to rise, then mortgage rates will move higher,” Yun said. “Rates will stabilize only when signs of peak inflation appear. If inflation is contained, then mortgage rates may even decline somewhat.”

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

ACNB Corp. announces record earnings in 2021

At the annual meeting of its shareholders May 3, ACNB Corp. reported record earnings for 2021.

Gettysburg-based ACNB is the $2.7 billion financial holding company for wholly-owned subsidiaries ACNB Bank and ACNB Insurance Services Inc.

Net income totaled $27.8 million, or $9.4 million more than in 2020.

“We remain focused on this vision as we enter 2022 and look to a post-pandemic environment for growth,” ACNB Corp. President and CEO James P. Helt said at the meeting. “After responding to the initial impacts of COVID-19 in 2020, we managed (toward) the future in 2021 despite the challenges of the business environment.”

The record earnings were in spite of continued low interest rates and excessive liquidity in the marketplace “that negatively impacted our net interest income and net interest margin for the year,” Helt said. “… The primary drivers to this significant increase in net income were higher fee income from the banking business line activity and a reduction in loan loss provision for the year, as well as one-time merger expenses related to the acquisition of Frederick County Bancorp Inc. in 2020.”

He concluded: “… ACNB Corp. remains well capitalized and positioned to continue our growth trends to the benefit of our customers, employees, shareholders and communities.”

ACNB Bank operates 20 community banking offices in Adams, Cumberland, Franklin and York counties as well as loan offices in Lancaster and York and Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Armstrong Flooring “likely” to file for bankruptcy

After securing a week-long extension from its lenders to evaluate the best path forward for its business, Lancaster-based Armstrong Flooring said that it is likely that it will be seeking bankruptcy protection. 

May 2nd marked the deadline for the flooring manufacturer to either sell or refinance the company in order to repay outstanding loans under its asset-based lending credit facility and term loan facility. 

Armstrong Flooring announced in a report with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday that it has received an extension on the deadline and is now required to enter into a purchase or merger agreement no later than May 8, 2022. 

The company continues to say in the report that while it has engaged with a number of interested third parties and their advisors to pursue a potential agreement, it does not expect that it will reach an agreement within the next week. 

 “While there has been no definitive decision made on how we will move forward, we are considering all available options, including seeking protection to execute a transaction through the Chapter 11 process,” Alison van Haskamp, director of corporate communications at Armstrong Flooring, said in an email on Tuesday. “Armstrong Flooring is open for business and is operating as usual. We will provide an update when there is news to share.” 

As of May 3, Armstrong Flooring’s stock dropped from $1.64 on April 29 to $.34. 

In the event that Armstrong Flooring seeks bankruptcy protection, holders of the company’s equity securities would likely be entitled to little or no recovery on their investments, the company wrote in the report. 

Armstrong Flooring reported a loss of $53 million in 2021, adding to the company’s accumulated deficit of $356.2 million. The company operates seven manufacturing plants in three countries and employs over 1,500 people.  

It became independent in 2016 after splitting from Armstrong World Industries. As part of the split, Armstrong Flooring took ownership of Armstrong World’s resilient flooring and wood flooring segments. 

Armstrong Flooring sold its wood flooring business in 2018. 

Harsco announces Q1 revenue of $453 million  

Harsco Corp., which plans to relocate its Camp Hill headquarters to Philadelphia early next year, reported first-quarter revenue Tuesday from continuing operations of $453 million. 

That represented a 1% increase from the prior quarter. Operating income from continuing operations was $8 million, and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) totaled $49 million. 

Founded in 1853, Harsco provides environmental solutions for industrial and specialty waste systems and technology for the rail sector. The company employs 12,000 in more than 30 countries. 

“Despite Harsco facing a challenging operating environment marked by increased inflationary pressures, we met our first quarter guidance,” Chairman and CEO Nick Grasberger said in a release. “… As the global economy continues to grow and sustainability goals remain a focus, Harsco is poised to benefit as a leading provider of recycling and material re-use solutions within industrial markets.” 

Underlying demand within most key markets – including the steel industry – is firm, he said. “The global steel market is in the process of rebalancing as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and we anticipate limited impacts over time given the diversity of our portfolio. 

“Meanwhile, continued high inflation as well as supply-chain and labor-market tightness remain concerns, particularly in the U.S. Internal actions are underway to mitigate these impacts and we remain confident that each of our businesses is positioned to deliver operating results growth in 2022.” 

Harsco has updated its 2022 guidance to reflect the challenges related to inflation – particularly in transportation and container costs – and ongoing labor-market tightness. It now expects to report $81 million to $96 million in operating income for the year. 

First-quarter earnings up 22% for Mid Penn

Harrisburg-based Mid Penn Bancorp Inc., parent company of Mid Penn Bank and MPB Financial Services LLC, reported a 22% increase in first-quarter earnings over last year.

Net income available to common shareholders (earnings) was $11.354 million, compared with $9.312 million the prior year.

The results for the three months ending March 31 include restructuring expenses of $329,000 from Mid Penn’s acquisition of Riverview Financial Corp., which closed Nov. 30, 2021.

“While the quarter was consumed with the wrap-up of the Riverview acquisition and the conversion of its customers onto the Mid Penn platform, we still managed to have great organic growth in many balance sheet and revenue numbers,” a release said.

Organic, core loan growth – excluding Paycheck Protection Program loans – annualized at just under 13% quarter over quarter, “which is a great start to the year, particularly in that the first quarter is traditionally our slowest growth quarter of any year,” the release noted.

Organic, core deposit growth, excluding time deposits, annualized at 7%.

Total loans increased 18% since March 31, 2021, a jump mostly attributable to the Riverview acquisition.

In addition, net interest income was $34.414 million in the first quarter, an increase of 36% from a year ago.

Hershey Co. reports double-digit sales and earnings 

The Hershey Company announced double-digit growth in sales and earnings in the first quarter of 2022, prompting the global confectioner to revise upward its revenue projections for the calendar year. 

Compared with the 2021 first quarter, consolidated net sales rose 16.1%, to more than $2.66 billion, and reported net income climbed 35.3%, to $533.5 million. 

First-quarter 2022 reported operating profit was $721 million, 30.4% more than a year ago, resulting in an operating profit margin of 27%, an increase of 290 basis points. The adjusted operating profit of $707.9 million jumped 27.4%, producing an adjusted operating profit margin of 26.6%, an increase of 240 basis points. 

Price realization and volume growth more than offset inflation, higher supply chain and labor costs, and increased amortization and costs related to recent acquisitions to drive operating margin expansion, a release said. 

Hershey now anticipates net sales growth of 10% to 12% this year over 2021. 

Michele Buck, Hershey Co. president and CEO, said in the release that “our fast start, sustained consumer relevancy and increased visibility into our recently acquired businesses give us the confidence to increase our full-year net sales and earnings outlook despite an increasingly challenging and inflationary environment.” 

Spurred by the acquisitions of Dot’s Pretzels Inc. and Pretzels Inc., Hershey’s North America salty snacks segment net sales were $226.1 million last quarter, 86.2% more than a year ago. 

North America confectionery segment net sales were $2.217 billion, an increase of 11.7%. 

Hershey Co. reports $8.97 billion in net sales for 2021 

The Hershey Co. reported consolidated net sales of more than $8.97 billion in 2021, an increase of 10.1% from the year before. 

“In 2021, we delivered a record year of production and double-digit sales and earnings growth, with a strong finish and momentum heading into 2022,” Hershey’s president and CEO, Michele Buck, said in a release. “While the environment remains volatile, we are confident in our ability to continue to respond to the changes in the world around us and deliver another year of advantaged performance in 2022.” 

The fourth-quarter 2021 operating profit of $459.2 million was up 13.3% from the fourth quarter of 2020, with price realization gains and reduced levels of advertising the catalysts. 

North America confectionary net sales rose 4.9% in the quarter while North America net sales of salty snacks jumped 38.9%. International market net sales grew slightly, inching up 1.7%. 

Hershey projects net sales growth of 8% to 10% in 2022, spurred by list price increases across the board. Capital expenditures of approximately $550 million to $600 million are also anticipated, the release added, “driven by key strategic initiatives including expanding the agility and capacity of the company’s supply chain and building digital infrastructure across the enterprise.” 

Rising prices, the release added, should partially offset investments in labor; higher logistics costs; and raw material inflation.