Believe it or not, a few local stocks were up in the first half of 2008. Shares of Occidental Petroleum gained 15.3 percent, for obvious reasons, and the Santa Monica videogame company Activision was up 13.5 percent because “Guitar Hero” is such a hit and because videogame stocks in general are defying the overall market. But aside from oil and videogames, this has not been a fun six months – though the degree of hurt depends a lot on what industry a company is in. Actually, you can learn a lot about the local economy by looking at the stock prices of these companies.
About the worst showing I came across was IndyMac, the big mortgage company in Pasadena – it was down 86.4 percent for the first six months. Most anything having to do with housing is still in bad shape. KB Home was down 16.3 percent (that’s on top of being down almost 57 percent for all of 2007) and Ryland Group, another local homebuilder, was down 16 percent. Another business getting hammered: restaurants. When folks shell out so much for food and gas, going out to eat becomes one of the first things they drop. So you have California Pizza Kitchen stock down almost 24 percent and Cheesecake Factory down 32 percent. Fast food chains like OC-based CKE Restaurants - parent of Carl's Jr. - fared a lot better. Meantime, Kroger Co., which owns Ralphs, was up almost 8 percent for the year. Everybody has to eat – it’s just cheaper to eat at home. Here’s a sample of local stocks for the first six months.
Occidental Petroleum +15.3%
City National -27.1%
KB Home -16.3%
99 Cents Stores -15%
By the way, Wall Street has turned ugly in this morning’s trading, the first day of the third quarter. At last check, the Dow is off about 130 points. If those numbers hold up, it will be a bear market.