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Many Northeast Ohio stocks finish 2013 on a high note

By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer

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The chemicals company that A. Schulman Inc. of Fairlawn tried to buy had the best stock price increase in the Bloomberg Northeast Ohio Index for 2013.

Shares in Ferro Corp., a specialty chemical maker based in Mayfield Heights, increased by nearly 207 percent last year. It was by far the best-performing stock in the regional index.

The next two top performers were trucking company YRC Worldwide Inc., which has several large terminals in the area, up 157 percent and Stoneridge Inc., up 149 percent.

Bringing up the rear were FirstEnergy Corp., whose stock price fell 21 percent; Cliffs Natural Resources, down 32.1 percent; and bank holding company First Place Financial, down a whopping 80 percent.

The Bloomberg Northeast Ohio Index increased 26.2 percent in 2013.

The return lagged the national Russell 2000 index, made up of 2,000 smaller company stocks, which was up 37 percent for the year.

The Bloomberg Northeast Ohio Index is made up of 43 publicly traded companies either based in the region or with a strong company presence here. The index is made up primarily of what are called small-cap companies and is intended to help measure the region’s economic performance.

The broader Bloomberg Ohio Index, made up of 100 companies headquartered in Ohio, was up 27.3 percent for the year.

The large-cap 30-company Dow Jones industrial average was up 26.5 percent in 2013, not including dividends.

The Standard & Poor’s 500, made up of the 500 largest U.S.-based corporations, was up a comparable 29.6 percent.

Percentage gains are based on the closing price of shares as of Dec. 31, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013.

The Bloomberg Ohio Index did not outperform the more widely known S&P 500 last year because of the kinds of company stocks that go into the Ohio index, a finance professor told the Dayton Daily News.

For instance, 22 of the 100 stocks in the Ohio index are materials companies and that sector did not perform particularly well, Cedarville University professor William Ragle said.

Even so, “these were very healthy increases,” Ragle told the Daily News. “We can’t expect 30 percent returns every year. If we had a 12 to 15 percent increase this year, that would be reasonable.”

With a couple of exceptions, Akron-area companies in the Bloomberg Northeast Ohio Index performed well last year.

Shares of Akron-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. were up 72.7 percent for the year. Akron banking company FirstMerit Corp.’s shares rose 56.7 percent. RPM International Inc. of Medina was up 41.4 percent; Myers Industries Inc. of Akron was up 39.4 percent; and Omnova Solutions Inc. of Fairlawn was up 30 percent.

Other Akron-area firms underperformed relative to the Northeast Ohio index or outright lost value in 2013.

Schulman shares rose 21.9 percent; J.M. Smucker of Orrville was up 20.2 percent; Timken Co. of Canton was up 15.1 percent and Green-based Diebold Inc. rose 7.8 percent.

Specialty insurer National Interstate shares lost 20.2 percent of their value in 2013 while FirstEnergy shares were down 21 percent.

As for top performer ­Ferro, Fairlawn polymer company Schulman last year offered to buy it for $855 million, or $6.50 a share in stock and cash plus debt. Ferro balked and Schulman announced in early July it had withdrawn its offer.

Ferro stock opened in 2013 at $4.18 per share, which likely made Schulman’s initial $6.50-per-share offer tempting. But at the end of 2013, Ferro stock had climbed to $12.83.

Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com.


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