Market Volatility Shows on Annual Stockholders List

by Gwen Moritz and Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Sep. 5, 2011 12:00 am  

The stockholders on the list can be presumed to have other investments, even in publicly traded companies, that aren't made public and therefore aren't included in the totals.

The list, as is traditional, includes only total holdings worth at least $1 million on the cutoff date, and the August market slump helps explain why the list is shorter (93 individuals and families) this year than a year ago (112). There were at least five stockholders whose holdings would have exceeded $1 million in value just a few weeks earlier.

The $4.2 billion sale in January of Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith to ABB Ltd. of Switzerland also deprived the list of five names. Their ownership in the new company, if any, is no longer a matter of public record.

Bank Stocks
Volatility has been the name of the game with stocks in all sectors, but some companies have weathered 2011 much better than others.

Dillard's Inc., as noted, is still at a historically healthy level after seeing stratospheric growth since January, when it announced that it would spin its real estate holdings into a real estate investment trust. While nothing more has happened on that front, quarter after quarter of solid earnings and five straight months of improved same-store sales have buoyed a stock that languished throughout the 2000s.

As of Aug. 23, the Little Rock retailer's stock price was still up almost 12 percent on the year.

Wal-Mart, too, has held its own despite disappointing domestic sales. Its Aug. 23 closing price of $55.21 was almost 2 percent above its opening price on Jan. 3.

Bank stocks, however, have been lucky to come out alive in 2011. Simmons First National Corp. has taken a beating, down 22 percent from the Jan. 3 open to the close on Aug. 23, and even new ownership and an aggressive recapitalization have been unable to help First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas, the holding company for First Federal Bank of Harrison.

Bank of the Ozarks, which enthusiastically announced a stock split in July, when its price was up more than 20 percent for the year, was back almost to its adjusted starting point by the third week of August.

Trucking Troubles
Arkansas' four publicly traded trucking companies all trade on the Nasdaq, and, like that exchange, their shares were holding their own or peeking in May and July only to dip sharply in early August, as the debt ceiling debate rattled the markets.

Shares of J.B. Hunt Transport Services of Lowell started the year at $41.64, closed at a high of $49.10 on July 7, but by Aug. 23 had slid to $38.80.

Arkansas Best Corp. of Fort Smith started the year at $27.93, but by Aug. 23 had fallen 32 percent to close at $18.96.



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