CEO leaves Buxton company, but the chairman's still in charge

Posted Sunday, Apr. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Sometimes, we are told, there's really no change in leadership when a CEO leaves. At least that's the case at the Buxton Co.

We hadn't realized that Charles W. Wetzel, chief executive of the privately held Fort Worth-based purveyor of retail site selection, marketing and e-commerce analytics, left in December until we got a March 5 news release from a Milan, Ill.-based consulting firm, Group O.

It said the 37-year-old Wetzel had taken a position with its Dallas office. Then we learned there was actually no Dallas office, and folks at O's Fort Worth unit insisted they knew nothing about Wetzel. It took us another few weeks to get him on the phone.

Well, Wetzel does work for O, attached to its San Antonio office (while still living in Dallas), he explained when the phone rang Friday.

Not his usually charismatic self, Wetzel didn't see why his departure needed to be mentioned in the media. "I had a wonderful time at Buxton [and] I don't think this is story-worthy."

But we persisted and he told us that he had gotten an offer too good to pass up. "I found a great opportunity with a large company and am tasked with running one of its four main offices."

Tom Buxton, 62, Wetzel's brother-in-law and the Buxton Co.'s founding chairman, made it clear on Saturday that he has always been in charge, no matter what titles might be handed out. He told us that Wetzel's former duties are now being shared by other executives and that the post won't be immediately filled.

"Charles was a big asset to us," he added. "Although he didn't run the company he had a lot of vision. I was his champion. I hope he does great."

Strong financial report for healthcare system

Texas Health Resources had a very healthy 2012, financially speaking.

The not-for-profit Arlington-based health system, which includes 25 hospitals and had 21,900 employees as of Dec. 31, saw its operating revenues rise to more than $3.7 billion, up 8 percent from 2011. Its excess of revenue over costs -- what a for-profit company would call net income -- more than doubled to $430 million, helped by strong investment returns.

That was enough to top Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System, which showed a $220 million net on nearly $4.1 billion in revenue for its 2012 fiscal year, which ended June 30. All the numbers are from regulatory disclosures related to the hospital systems' publicly held debt.

Rick McWhorter, THR's senior vice president of finance, said the hospital system "had a good year with volume" as spending on healthcare seemed to recover after some recession-induced frugality on the part of patients. Operating costs rose just 4.9 percent. That produced operating income of $289 million, a big jump over 2011 when the acquisition of the Medical Edge physician group produced a big jump in the system's payroll, McWhorter said.

But the biggest swing was in the investment portfolio. Earnings on more than $2 billion in various holdings topped $200 million, although more than half of that was unrealized, meaning the gain was only on paper.

Other adjustments to THR's finances, mostly subtracting partners' income from joint ventures and other partially owned entities the system participates in, produced the final net income figure.

New airline will need new ticker symbol

Picking three letters for a stock ticker symbol is one of the many merger decisions facing US Airways Chief Executive Doug Parker when he becomes chief executive of the combined American Airlines-US Airways later this year.

Parker said Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., that a symbol hasn't been picked for the new firm, which will be named American Airlines Group. But it won't be AMR.

The new company won't be named AMR Corp. after it emerges from bankruptcy, Parker reasoned. He said he and American Chief Executive Tom Horton, who will be chairman of the combined company, have been emailing back and forth about the ticker symbol.

In 1982, American changed its name to AMR, using the three-letter New York Stock Exchange symbol as its corporate name since the airline had other businesses including its SABRE reservation system.

"When we put the merger agreement in place, the name of the new company doesn't have any AMR around it," Parker said. "Because we want to get away from that and let people know we are here for one reason. We are an airline and that is what we do."

So AMR will be going away on Wall Street. Any suggestions?

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

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