Our annual Oklahoma Inc. special section will appear in The Oklahoman this weekend, offering a look at the state's publicly traded companies.
Each year, we examine some of the state's high-profile, and some less well-known, companies that trade on Wall Street. And each November, I tuck away a copy of Oklahoma Inc. in a file drawer.
As we anticipate this year's publication, it seems an apt time to take a look back at some of those sections and firms of former years.
One need only flip back the pages a dozen years to see the rise, fall and departure of firms.
In 2000, the state's top public companies included Bartlesville-based Phillips Petroleum (now merged with Conoco and moved to Houston) and Kerr-McGee Corp. (swallowed by Anadarko and moved to Houston).
But at the top of those old rankings sits Devon Energy, an American Stock Exchange traded company that had then just joined the S&P 500 Index. Now, of course, Devon Energy Center is the most visible monument to capitalism in town.
A decade ago, the post-2001 recession list of state public companies had shrunk by more than a dozen, but many of the familiar companies remained: Helmerich & Payne, Unit Corp., Sonic Corp.; and BOK Financial Corp. were among the top performers. Among those on the 2002 list that have been absorbed or merely moved off the stock exchange: Pre-Paid Legal Services; Local Financial Corp.; Kinark; Six Flags and Dobson Communications.
The 2009 list was a grim recounting of a horrible year for most companies. We tried to capture it underneath a main headline of “Economy Hit By a Meteor.” Even the smiles in the advertising looked forced.
Reading several years of Oklahoma Inc. at a sitting reveals how companies are subject to economic forces; how energy firms prosper and suffer with volatile commodity prices, and how firms disappear in a variety of ways from bankruptcy to acquisition.
Companies aren't the only thing that evolves due to economics. The Oklahoma Inc. section itself has changed. It's now printed on significantly narrower paper, a cost-cutting move.
However, we now also produce videos and other online features too that carry content along with that smaller section.
I'm not revealing the top performer for this Sunday's Oklahoma Inc. But it's a company that many of our readers should know, and one that has topped our rankings previously. Enjoy.