A regional bank, a fast-food chain and a midstream energy company have reason to pop the Champagne corks after posting large gains in stock prices among Oklahoma companies in 2012.
The Oklahoman's review of more than 40 publicly traded state companies found about one-third had positive stock growth in 2012.
Southwest Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Stillwater National Bank, led all Oklahoma stocks with a gain of 88 percent in 2012. The stock closed at $11.20 on Monday, up from $5.96 a year ago. Drive-in chain Sonic Corp. ended the year at $10.41, a 55 percent increase from a year ago when it was $6.73.
Rose Rock Midstream LP, a partnership tied to Tulsa's SemGroup Corp., gained about 53 percent for the year and closed at $31.47 on Monday. SemGroup itself came in a close fourth, with a 50 percent increase in its share price in 2012.
At the other end, the worst-performing Oklahoma stocks were Apco Oil and Gas International Inc. (down 85 percent), GMX Resources Inc. (down 60 percent) and Syntroleum Corp. (down 59 percent).
All three major stock indexes declined in the fourth quarter but still posted solid growth for the entire year. The Dow ended the year up 7 percent, and the S&P 500 rose 13 percent. The Nasdaq index rose 16 percent in 2012.
Jake Dollarhide, CEO of Tulsa-based Longbow Asset Management Co., said it was a “weird” year for the market, with an election year, bad news from Europe and a slow recovery in the U.S. economy all factoring into investors' decisions.
“As bad as things have been, in the end, it was a good market year,” Dollarhide said. “We had solid, double-digit returns pretty much from the stock market. If you had read all the headlines, you would have thought we would have been down 8 or 9 percent.”
Lower commodity prices kept many of the state's energy companies from posting solid gains in stock price in 2012, Dollarhide said.
“For the most part, the energy sector had a weak year,” he said. “The big home-runner hitters in the energy sector have been the exploration and production companies. That wasn't the case this year as commodity prices went lower across the board for both oil and natural gas. It was more the midstream companies, the pipeline companies, the processing companies, like Rose Rock and SemGroup, who had a good year.”
Gulfport Energy Corp., Matrix Service Co. and Access Midstream Partners LP all posted stock gains of more than 15 percent for 2012.
Meanwhile, Continental Resources Inc. shares increased 10 percent. Share prices for OGE Energy Corp., ONEOK Inc. and Williams Cos. Inc. were essentially flat for the year. Devon Energy Corp. shares fell 16 percent, SandRidge Energy Inc. declined 22 percent and shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp. fell 25 percent in 2012.
The worst-performing stock, Apco Oil and Gas, was battered by news earlier in the year that the Argentine government nationalized the operations of several private, foreign companies with assets in the South American country. Apco, with operations in Argentina and Colombia, wasn't affected by the nationalization move, but investors were jittery nonetheless.
“It was a tough year for oil and gas, but if you had a specific international risk tied to it that didn't go your way, it was an even tougher year for investors,” Dollarhide said.
Outside of its strong stock market performance in 2012, Southwest Bancorp has had an active year as its board and management continue to clean up the bank's balance sheet. The company sold off a troubled loan portfolio in late 2011. In August, it paid off a $70 million Troubled Asset Relief Program loan from the U.S. Treasury taken out in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Southwest Bancorp resumed paying dividends in the summer and named longtime Bank of Oklahoma executive Mark Funke its new president and CEO in September.
Joe Shockley, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said investors are taking note of the bank's performance.
“The management team and board have taken some bold but necessary steps to move the company forward,” Shockley said. “Anytime you announce those types of actions, including new management, there's a level of optimism.”
With some internal challenges out of the way, Shockley said the bank will refocus its marketing efforts in the coming year.
“Certain investors have seen those actions and seen the company is still well-capitalized,” he said. “Candidly, with the stock still trading at a discount to book value, some investors obviously feel that it could be a good entry point. We hope that's the case, and we hope to do our best to continue to improve the company throughout 2013.”
For 2013, Dollarhide said the U.S. stock market is poised for solid growth if domestic issues get worked out in Congress. That will be despite world events that have shaped markets in the last few years.
“Things like Europe will still exist, worries about a slowdown in China will still exist,” Dollarhide said. “Once we get past the ‘fiscal cliff,' there will be the debt ceiling and all year we'll be talking about the tax code. But if the snow clears, this could be a very good year if the economy grows faster than it did this past year. That could help commodity prices and demand for oil and gas, which will help our publicly traded state companies do better.
“Typically, the first year of an incumbent president's second term can be very good for the market. Short of anything surprising or shocking, it could be a very good year once we get through January and the first part of the year.”
1. Southwest Bancorp Inc.
2. Sonic Corp.
3. Rose Rock Midstream LP
1. Apco Oil and Gas International Inc.
2. GMX Resources Inc.
3. Syntroleum Corp.