Read 'em and weep

Warning: The following stock returns for 2008 may be unsuitable for those investors with weak stomachs.

Disney -28.6%
Amgen +24.3%
Activision -41.8%
Cheesecake Factory -57.4%
California Pizza Kitchen -31.1%
DreamWorks Animation -1.1%
Edison International -37.9%
Hot Topic +59.3%
KB Home -34.4%
Mattel -11.2%
Macerich -72.5%
99 Cents Stores +37.3%
Northrop -41.2%
Occidental -20.7%
THQ -85.1%

As you can see, there were a few fortunate shareholders of locally based companies. After a rocky stretch of negative FDA rulings, Thousand Oaks-based Amgen recovered nicely (guess investors realized that health care-related issues are still a good bet). Also, the deep-discount craze helped City of Commerce-based 99 Cents Only Stores. But overall it was a terrible year to own stocks. From the NYT:

All told, about $7 trillion of shareholders’ wealth — the gains of the last six years — will be wiped out in a year marked by violent market swings. But what is striking is not just the magnitude of the declines, staggering as they are, but also their breadth. All but 2 of the 30 Dow industrials, Wal-Mart and McDonalds, fell by more than 11 percent. Almost no industry was spared as the crisis that emerged in the subprime mortgage market metastasized and the economy sank into what could be a long, gray recession.


“The only willing risk taker is the government,” said William H. Gross, the chief investment officer of the Pacific Investment Management Company, or Pimco, the giant bond trading firm. Speaking of the epicenter of the financial world, he added: “It is no longer New York, it’s Washington.” Like many money managers, Mr. Gross is a conservative — he describes himself as a “Reagan fan from way back” — who generally prefers limited government involvement in the markets. But he and others say that the government’s sweeping intervention into private industry and in the markets, though sometimes flawed, was necessary to prevent a collapse of the financial system.

More by Mark Lacter:
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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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