Service companies lost more ground than they gained on the Oklahoma Inc. top companies chart this year.
Tulsa-based Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc. had the strongest showing across the sector but fell to No. 13 from No. 3 last year. Sonic Corp. climbed nine notches to No. 25 from No. 34.
The three remaining companies in the sector slid. Educational Development Corp., a Tulsa-based company that sells children's books, fell to No. 27 from No. 20. ADDvantage Technologies Group Inc., a Broken Arrow-based company that resells cable TV equipment, plummeted to No. 31 from No. 9. And, GrayMark Healthcare Inc., an Oklahoma City-based company that owns and operates diagnostic sleep centers and a medical equipment company that treats patients for sleep disorders, slipped to No. 33 from No. 29.
Jake Dollarhide, chief executive of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa who follows the services sector, attributes the sector's poor showing to slow economic recovery.
“Since they deal directly with consumers, service companies live and die by the economy,” he said
Moreover, service companies play a major role in improving the unemployment rate but aren't adding jobs, he said, because the economy hasn't returned to pre-2008 highs.
Dollar Thrifty's respectable showing on the list is largely due to last spring's bidding war between Hertz and Avis to acquire it, he said. Despite the weakness in leisure and business travel, its share, he said, is tied to the buyout premium of Hertz's current offer.
Though Sonic moved up on this year's list, it may have been negatively affected because many of its restaurants are in smaller communities that had job losses, Dollarhide said.
Sonic has added to its menu and stayed creative, but it hasn't gripped the same momentum as McDonald's, which has pulled the right triggers with salad, breakfast and coffee selections, he said.
Despite the lower rankings, services companies are good for Oklahoma, said Lynn Gray, an economist with the state Employment Security Commission.
For the 12 months ending August 2011, the goods-producing area grew by 17,800 jobs or 7.6 percent, while service and government grew by 20,100, or 2.11 percent, and 4,800, 1.43 percent, respectively, Gray said. No major industry of the service area grew as fast as even the slowest in the goods sector, he said.