Oklahoma Inc. gives us an annual perspective on our state's publicly traded companies. That has value in a world in which we track stock prices on a minute-by-minute basis.
Perhaps one can gain an even broader view by looking back at the results over longer periods of time. So I decided to travel back in time to review Oklahoma Inc. from five, 10 and 15 years ago, and offer a few observations.
The massive economic collapse was peaking even as we were compiling Oklahoma Inc. Share prices of many state stocks were sliding, along with the broader market, as Oklahoma Inc. was published.
Top dog: In its first year as a public company, Continental Resources offered signs of things to come. The firm ranked first in total returns and earnings growth. CEO Harold Hamm graced the cover of Oklahoma Inc. along with the truck he used to start his energy business. Hamm's penchant for oil has served his shareholders well.
Gone, but not forgotten: GMX Resources Inc. The Oklahoma City energy company finished second in the 2008 rankings. This year, GMX shares fell off the stock exchange as the company sought bankruptcy protection.
Memories: Sarah Palin and Joe Biden staged their only debate between the two vice presidential candidates the same month Oklahoma Inc. was published. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged below 8,000 as U.S. policymakers cut interest rates and craft a bailout package.
Energy companies reasserted their dominance in the Oklahoma Inc. rankings, with half of the top 10 companies from that industry. However, the top 10 included a healthy mix of firms, including a gadget-maker (Lowrance Electronics Inc.), bookseller (Educational Development Corp.) and phone company (Dobson Communications Corp.).
Top dog: Matrix Service Co., a Tulsa company that builds and maintains equipment and sites for other energy companies, vaulted to the head of the list after completing a merger that doubled the business' size. Matrix was the only Oklahoma public company that doubled its shareholders' money during the year.
Gone, but not forgotten: Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc., an Ada-based company that sold legal services through a multilevel marketing model, managed to finish sixth in the rankings despite wild swings in the company's stock throughout the year. Pre-Paid Legal was taken private after a private equity firm bought the business in 2011.
Memories: The Concorde passenger jet made its final flight days after 2003's Oklahoma Inc. is published. Former energy giant Enron Inc. continued working through its bankruptcy, filed nearly two years earlier. The scandal-plagued Houston company would not exit bankruptcy until it had disposed of essentially all of its assets.
Fifteen years is a long time in the life of most public companies. Eight of the top 10 companies in 1998's Oklahoma Inc. rankings no longer exist, most having been absorbed by other firms. Typical of those vanishing brands is Xeta Corp., a Broken Arrow telecom company ranked No. 3 in 1998, which changed its name to Xeta Technologies before being bought out in 2011 in a $61 million deal.
Top dog: Earning the top spot was Eateries Inc., an Oklahoma City restaurant firm led by Vince Orza, a former television reporter and anchor who later became dean of the Oklahoma City University business school after selling his Eateries holdings. Eateries was bought out in 2007 by a Dallas-based company that closed some of its trademark Garfield's Restaurant and Pub locations in local malls.
Gone, but not forgotten: Commander Aircraft Co., Oklahoma Inc.'s No. 9 ranked company in 1998, went public in 1993, five years after buying a single-engine aircraft line from Gulfstream Aerospace. The company, from hangars at Wiley Post Airport, produced about 200 Commander 114B planes before the 9/11 attacks gutted the private aerospace industry. The company sought bankruptcy protection before shutting down and selling all its assets in 2005.
Memories: Around the same time that Oklahoma Inc. was published, Google Inc. was founded in Menlo Park, Calif., by Stanford University Ph.D. candidates Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Eric Robert Rudolph was charged with the 1996 Olympic bombing in Atlanta; and Matthew Shepard was fatally beaten in Laramie, Wyo.