Generally Improved Prices Show on List of Top Stockholders

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Sep. 13, 2010 12:00 am  

The stock market may be nothing to write home about in 2010 - the Dow Jones Industrial Average was trading last week almost exactly where it opened for the year.

But the year-over-year improvement in stock prices for many publicly traded companies is evident in Arkansas Business' annual list of major stock holdings by Arkansans. The list ranks by value publicly disclosed stock holdings in excess of $1 million, and there were 112 Arkansans in that category as of Aug. 27. A year earlier - on Aug. 14, 2009, to be specific - only 88 Arkansas residents or families had publicly disclosed stockholdings in seven figures or more.

(Click here to see the list of the top stockholders. Click here for a spreadsheet version.)

The information included in the list is gleaned from corporate proxy statements and Forms 3, 4 and 5 filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission. The SEC requires disclosure by officers, directors and any person or entity that owns at least 5 percent of the outstanding shares of any company.

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. For instance, Curt Bradbury of Little Rock, the COO of Stephens Inc., has described himself as a stockholder of Bank of America Corp., but he isn't required to disclose how many shares he owns.

Conversely, many of the names specifically deny ownership of some of the shares that they are required to disclose. One notable example is Gary C. George of Springdale, who wasn't on last year's list at all because the 31,474 shares in J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. that he disclosed ownership of were worth just under the $1 million cutoff last August. This year, he is No. 10 on the list with holdings worth $52.6 million because his latest disclosure also includes more than 1.53 million shares of J.B. Hunt stock owned by C.L. George & Sons LP of Fayetteville and Gene & Mary Frances George LP of Springdale.

"The reporting person disclaims beneficial ownership of these securities and this report shall not been deemed an admission that the reporting person is the beneficial owner of such securities," according to a footnote on Gary George's SEC disclosure.

It also helps that J.B. Hunt stock is more valuable this year than last - trading at $33.62 on Aug. 27, compared with $29.59 on the cutoff date in August 2009.

But that's not true of all of the companies on the list. The eternal top stockholders, the heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, were a wee bit less flush this year because Wal-Mart's share price was $51 on the cutoff date, compared with $51.81 on the cutoff in 2009. Less than a dollar per share makes a difference when multiplied by more than 1.7 billion shares.

The Waltons made up some of that decline when Hyatt Hotels Corp. of Chicago began trading publicly last November. Through Madrone Capital Partners LLC of Menlo Park, Calif., and other entities associated with Rob Walton and his son-in-law, Gregory B. Penner, the Walton family gets credit for more than 10.2 million shares of Hyatt stock, which closed at $37.62 on Aug. 27. That's an improvement of 39 percent over the initial public offering price of $27 and worth almost $384 million.

Top 10
Improvement in Tyson Foods Inc.'s stock price moved the Don Tyson Family from No. 4 on last year's list to No. 2 this year. With barely any additions to their 74.6 million shares of Class A and Class B stock, Don, John and Barbara Tyson saw their combined fortune grow from less than $850 million in August 2009 to almost $1.24 billion last month.

Last year's No. 2 place holder, the family of Charles Murphy, dropped down one place as all three of their primary public company investments - Murphy Oil Corp., Deltic Timber Corp. and BancorpSouth Inc. - lost value per share.



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