Improved Market Results in Larger List of State's Top Stockholders

Improved Market Results in Larger List of State's Top Stockholders
Our annual look at Arkansas’ top stockholders is accompanied by closer studies of stock trends for the transportation, retail, banking and tech sectors.

Market watchers know that stock values have trended generally upward during the past year, with notable departures both positive and negative.

The same is true of Arkansas Business' annual list of the state's top stockholders, who are ranked by the value of publicly disclosed stockholdings. In September 2011, the last time we compiled this list, 93 individuals and families reported to the Securities & Exchange Commission that they held stocks with total value of $1 million or more. Thirteen months later, our list has 102 entries.

(The list of the top stockholders in Arkansas can be viewed or downloaded for free as a PDF. A spreadsheet is also available for purchase.)

The list always represents a snapshot in time. In this case, that snapshot was at the closing bell on Oct. 12. And things have happened since then. For instance, Murphy Oil Corp. announced on Oct. 16 that it will be spinning off its retail operation into a separate publicly traded company, Murphy Oil USA. If our snapshot had been delayed by two trading days, the Charles Murphy family's fortune would have been some $50 million larger.

Even before the big news, the Murphy family's fortune had improved by $100 million in just over a year, thanks to rebounds by both Murphy Oil and its first spinoff, Deltic Timber Corp.

But even an additional $100 million wasn't enough to keep the Murphys from slipping from No. 3 last year to No. 4 this year. That's because last year's No. 4 stock fortune, that of the J.B. Hunt family of Lowell, grew by some $375 million despite the sale of some 400,000 shares because each of its remaining 20 million shares is worth almost $20 more this year. (See related story.)

Another big winner in the past year has been the William Dillard family of Little Rock. Record prices for shares of family-controlled Dillard Inc. have pushed the family stock fortune from barely $300 million in August 2011 to $530 million earlier this month. (See related story.)

Warren Stephens, the CEO of Stephens Inc., scored a payoff estimated at $59.5 million when one of his investment companies, Cost Plus Inc. of Oakland, Calif., was sold to Bed Bath & Beyond in May. But even with that company's departure from his publicly disclosed portfolio, the value of Stephens stockholdings has increased by more than $100 million since our last list. Stephens moves up one spot, to No. 7 on our list, and retail is the reason.

His investment in electronics retailer Conn's Inc. was worth $150 million on Oct. 12, up from $34 million in August 2011. Stephens' shares in Dillard's Inc., where he is a director, have also benefitted by more than $4 million.

The state's bankers are enjoying higher stock values as well. Despite divesting thousands of shares, CEO George Gleason and his wife, Linda, saw their holdings in Bank of the Ozarks improve by more than $20 million. And Chairman John Allison's shares of   Home Bancshares Inc., were worth more than $86 million on Oct. 12, up from $58.76 million just 14 months ago. (See related story.)

The No. 1 spot on our list is never in question: The family of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. And the Waltons have had a very good year. Since our last list, the value of the family's combined stockholdings has increased by more than 30 billion-with-a-B dollars. As with J.B. Hunt Transport Services stock, Wal-Mart shares are worth some $20 more this year - $75.81 vs. $55.21 - and the Waltons have 1.7 billion shares - half of all Wal-Mart shares outstanding.

(For a related story on Arkansas tech stocks, click here.)

The List

The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission requires public disclosure by officers, directors and any person or entity that owns at least 5 percent of the outstanding shares of any publicly traded company. The information included in Arkansas Business' annual list is gleaned from corporate proxy statements and Forms 3, 4 and 5 filed with the SEC. Unless otherwise noted, the shares are owned outright by the person or family listed; exercisable options and restricted shares are generally not included.

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.