Winners & losers in 2013 stock prices of firms tied to area

Winners & losers in 2013 stock prices of firms tied to area

What a great year 2013 was for the stock market.

If your portfolio didn't register at least double-digit percentage increases, you were well behind the curve.

The Dow Jones industrial average, which follows the market capitalization of 30 major companies, rose 26.5 percent over the course of the year, with Boeing leading the way (up 81 percent) and IBM at the back of the pack (down 2 percent).

Some broader indices were up even higher. The Standard & Poor's index of 500 companies on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq exchange grew by 29.6 percent. Meanwhile, the Russell 2000 index of "small-cap" stocks shot up by 37 percent.

Here's a look at some of the big winners and losers among companies with a major presence in East Central Illinois:

Why has Supervalu suddenly exploded in value after several years of decline?

Investors obviously liked the restructuring of the company that occurred in early 2013 after Sam Duncan, former CEO of Shopko Stores and OfficeMax, was hired as Supervalu's new CEO.

Supervalu sold off several of its retail brands, including Albertsons and Jewel-Osco, to become a company less than half its previous size in terms of sales.

The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based company now focuses on three divisions: its Save-A-Lot discount food chain; five regional supermarket chains; and its wholesale division, which serves 2,500 independent retailers.

Supervalu, which trades under the SVU symbol on the New York Stock Exchange, started the year with a stock price of $2.47 a share and ended it at $7.29 a share. The price topped $8 a share in late July and early October before cooling off.

Nine months into its current fiscal year, the company reported net earnings of $156 million, a substantial turnaround from the $54 million net loss it recorded for the same period the previous year.

Supervalu has a wholesale distribution center in Urbana, as well as the W. Newell & Son produce distribution center in Champaign.

What made broadcast television properties so attractive last year, as evidenced by massive escalation in Nexstar and Sinclair stocks?

Yikes! If you wanted to double your money — no, triple your money, even quintuple your money — in 2013, broadcast TV stations were the place to be.

Nexstar Broadcasting Group, which owns, operates or provides services to 72 stations, including WCIA-TV in Champaign and WCIX-TV in Springfield, saw its stock price soar from $10.59 a share to $55.73 a share.

Meanwhile, Sinclair Broadcast Group, with 167 stations including WICD-TV in Champaign and WICS-TV in Springfield, enjoyed an appreciation from $12.62 to $35.73.

License to print money? No, license to airwaves spectrum that wireless operators covet. In September, Barron's reported several reasons for the run-up in broadcast stocks, primarily the value of their airwaves rights.

Cell operators want to lease some of that spectrum to accommodate all the info that smartphones can handle.

Broadcast TV stations are also enjoying revenues from retransmission fees that cable and satellite companies pay to carry their signal, Barron's noted. Plus, political campaigns — and political action committees — are finding broadcast TV their favorite medium for spending when it comes to targeted campaigns.

Is it really time for Yahoo investors to shout "Yahoo!" over the 2013 results?

Results from the stock price, yes; results from earnings and revenue, no.

Yahoo certainly seems more popular with investors since former Google executive Marissa Mayer was hired as Yahoo's CEO in July 2012. The 38-year-old Mayer helped orchestrate the $1.1 billion purchase of the Tumblr blog-hosting website in June 2013.

Yahoo stock, which trades under the YHOO symbol on the Nasdaq exchange, started the year at $19.90 a share and finished at $40.44 a share. But diluted earnings for the first three quarters of 2013 were 93 cents a share, down from $3.02 in the same period a year earlier. Several times last year, the company's outlook for earnings fell below what analysts had been estimating.

In assessing Mayer's situation this month, The Wall Street Journal noted that one reason Yahoo is valued so highly is its stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holdings — which could soon go public.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo, which has a research and development facility in the University of Illinois Research Park, provides search, content and communication tools for the Web and mobile devices.

Did ADM's decision to move its headquarters to Chicago cause the company's stock to shoot up so much?

Archer Daniels Midland's stock price was already doing very well before the company announced in December that it would move its global headquarters to Chicago.

The agribusiness giant has been based in Decatur for 44 years, but on Sept. 24, ADM said it needed to move its top executives to a more accessible location. Decatur will still be the hub of ADM's North American operations, with 4,400 employees working there.

The company's stock, which trades under the ADM symbol on the NYSE, started the year trading for $27.39 a share. By the end of 2013, the stock sold for $43.40 a share. The rise was fairly constant throughout the year, with a big jump in mid-February, a slight fallback from August through early October and a sizable rally in the latter weeks of October.

In a year that saw wild swings in agricultural commodity prices, ADM had net earnings of $968 million for the first nine months of 2013, up from $865 million for the same period in 2012.

For shareholders, that produced earnings of $1.46 per share for the nine-month period, up from $1.31 per share a year earlier.

Operating profits were up for ADM's corn-processing businesses, but down for its oilseeds-processing and agricultural services businesses.

Why did J.C. Penney fare so much worse than Sears in the stock market this year?

J.C. Penney's travails have been more dramatic this year than those of Sears, which has been on a downward slide since April 2010.

Investors in J.C. Penney got their hopes up in June 2011 when it was announced that former Apple executive Ron Johnson would become J.C. Penney's new CEO.

Johnson advocated a switch to "everyday pricing" with a de-emphasis on sales and coupons. He also revamped the layout of the stores, creating "stores-within-a-store," each of which featured a popular brand.

But the strategy, which began to be put in place in August 2012, proved a disaster, resulting in a precipitous drop in sales. In April 2013, Johnson was fired and replaced by former CEO Mike Ullman, who sought to stabilize the chain.

J.C. Penney stock (NYSE symbol JCP) started 2013 at $19.71 a share and finished at $9.15 a share. The price dropped dramatically in late February and early March, just before Johnson was dismissed. The price rebounded in the spring, but deteriorated from June to October before heading upward later in the year.

As recently as February 2012, J.C. Penney stock was trading for $42.68 a share.

Meanwhile, the stock of Sears Holdings Corp. (Nasdaq symbol SHLD) — the parent of both Sears and Kmart — climbed from $41.70 per share to $49.04 per share in 2013. But that's a big drop from the $120-a-share price the stock was fetching in April 2010.

These days, Sears' fortunes seem to be swayed more by what Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert might do with the company's real estate than by actual sales at Sears and Kmart.

For the first nine months of this fiscal year, Sears Holdings' revenues were $25.6 billion, down 7 percent from $27.6 billion from the same period a year earlier.

The company showed a net loss of $966 million for the most recent nine-month period, more than doubling the $437 million net loss it had for the same nine months in 2012.

Sears is closing its store at Champaign's Market Place Shopping Center today. J.C. Penney continues to operate its store at Market Place, joining Macy's and Bergner's as the mall's three anchor stores.

Sears will still have stores at Danville's Village Mall, Mattoon's Cross County Mall, Bloomington's Eastland Mall and Forsyth's Hickory Point Mall.

Sections (2):News, Business
Topics (1):Economy

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