According to the Wall Street Journal, ThyssenKrupp is now considering selling only its unprofitable steel mill in Alabama, a new twist in the German industrial conglomerate’s troubled quest to unload its Steel Americas division.

The two plants have already cost TK upwards of $15 billion without delivering a dollar of profit. Since the plants opened in 2010, TK has written down their value by $10.7 billion. Book value for the two mills is currently estimated at $4.5 billion.

To date, $2 billion has been offered for the Alabama mill which is less than half of its original $5 billion in construction costs. The Calvert plant was initially designed to produce upwards of five million tons of steel a year for car factories all over the Southeast.

“At some point, you need to fish or cut bait,” said John Packard, publisher of Steel Market Update, to WSJ. He said ThyssenKrupp’s three options now are to “sell the Calvert operations to CSN with some form of agreement to supply slabs from CSA in Brazil; sell the Calvert operations to someone like ArcelorMittal and shut down the plant in Brazil; or not to sell the holdings at all and figure out a way to make the operations profitable.”

Reasoning behind TK’s latest strategy is that the Alabama plant is considered a high-tech prize and thus easier to unload to potential buyers, per experts who follow the U.S. steel industry. The mill in Brazil, they say, is a lemon.

“Design-wise, the Brazil facility wasn’t bad, they just didn’t build it right,” says Charles Bradford, an analyst for Bradford Research Inc., in WSJ.

Positive ACRE report

According to the Alabama Center For Real Estate (ACRE), Mobile real estate is on the rebound. “We can possibly expect an influx of new industry coming into our area in the near future based on these positive numbers,” said Devin Watson, realtor with Prudential Cooper. For the first time since the downturn of the market, every metro area in Alabama has experienced an increase in new homes sales compared to those in May 2012.

Tuscaloosa is leading the state in with the highest growth rate of 65 percent. Mobile lands the second place spot with an increase of 27 percent.

Total residential sales

Alabama home sales for May 2013 totaled 4,313 units, an increase of 487 transactions compared to 3,826 homes sold in May 2012. Also in May 2013, 17 of 25 associations (68 percent) reported positive gains vs. May 2012. Historical five-year average ACRE data indicates that home sales increased 10.2 percent from April. May 2013 statewide sales posted an 11.6 percent increase in comparison.

Median housing sales data

The median Alabama selling price in May 2013 was $126,266. This was a .7 percent decrease from May 2012’s median selling price of $127,143. The median five-year average is $127,332.

In May 2013, 18 of 25 associations (72 percent) reported positive gains in median price compared to the 12 months prior. Historical ACRE data indicates that May median sales prices over a five-year period traditionally increase by 1.8 percent from April. In comparison, May 2013 median sales price increases were double the average (3.6 percent).

Per the ACRE report, while pricing is beginning to stabilize, excess supply and distressed sales continue to apply pressure on year-over-year home pricing in most Alabama markets. This trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Average housing sales data

The average selling price in Alabama for May 2013 was $151,411, a 1.2 percent increase from a year ago ($149,543). In May 2013, 18 of 25 associations (72 percent) reported gains in average sales prices from May 2012. Historical ACRE data indicates that May average sales prices — over a five-year average — increase 5.8 percent vs. April. May 2013 average sales prices marginally beat that average with an increase of 6 percent.

Days on Market (DOM)

The average days in May 2013 that a home in Alabama was on the market were 157. This represented a drop of 1.3 percent from a year ago. Also in May 2013, 11 of 25 associations (44 percent) reported a positive year-over-year reduction in average DOM from May 2012. Historical five-year average ACRE data indicates that DOM in May is 149 days; 8 days below May 2013 results. The current DOM is expected to continue within the current range (130 – 160 days) for the foreseeable future.

Total Homes Listed for Sale

Alabama homes listed for sale in May 2013 dropped by 1,089 units (3.2 percent) vs. the same period last year. In May 2013, 11 of 25 associations (44 percent) reported positive annual reductions in housing inventory. Historical five-year average ACRE data indicates that homes for sale increase 1.2 percent from April. In May 2013, however, inventory increased by only .5 percent from the month prior.

Inventory-to-sales ratio

According to the ACRE report, typical housing markets are considered to be in balance with approximately six months of housing inventory supply. Metro markets in Alabama reported an inventory supply of 6.8 months; midsize regions reported a supply of 8.3 months; rural areas across the state reported an inventory supply of 13.1 months.

The ACRE report emphasized Alabama’s need to begin reducing inventory towards its historic 10-year average of 28,000 units across all categories in order to transition towards a broader level of economic equilibrium statewide.

Greer’s acquires two Belle Foods stores

Company spokesperson, Jan Greer Endfinger, confirmed that Greer’s has acquired two Belle Foods Stores; one located on Cottage Hill Road in Mobile and the other on Barrancas Avenue in Pensacola. Plans are to reopen both as a Greer’s CashSaver Cost Plus Food Outlets.

“Our Greer’s CashSavers are a new concept. Unlike other discount stores, we carry an expanded variety of items at lower overall prices. Every item in each department is priced at cost with 10 percent added at checkout,” said Jackie Greer, VP of Autry Greer & Sons, Inc.

The Mobile store closed Aug. 12 for inventory and restocking with plans to reopen around Aug. 22.

“We know customers have been inconvenienced the past few weeks and invite them to come in as soon as we get the doors back open,” said Endfinger.

Greer’s family-owned and operated grocery chain has been part of the Port City’s landscape for nigh onto a century. The first store opened its doors in 1916.