LendingTree’s 236% gain was the most noteworthy performance among Carolinas stocks in 2017. Seven other companies based in the region gained at least 40%, while another 21 jumped 20% or more. Conversely, 17 stocks declined at least 20%. For the year, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 19%, while the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 25%.
Bank of America gained 33%, pushing its market value over $300 billion, or almost four times as large as the second-most valuable Carolinas-based company, Lowe’s Cos.
Here are the major movers in the Capital Investment Cos./Nottingham Index of Carolinas-based public companies for 2017. The index includes companies with shares that traded for at least $10 in part or all of 2017.
The biggest gainers:
LendingTree (TREE) 236% $340.45 — Everything fell in place for the Charlotte-based online marketplace, which reported profit of more than $30 million in the last four quarters. Shares traded for less than $10 in 2012.
First South Bancorp (FSBK) 75% $17.28— Washington-based community bank was acquired by Carolina Financial Corp., a South Carolina-based company that operates as CresCom Bank. First South shares traded above $20 in 2005-08, but declined sharply during the 2007-09 recession and never recovered to previous heights.
Red Hat (RHT) 72% $120.10 —Revenue at the Raleigh-based open-source software company gained more than 20% from the previous year bolstered by demand for cloud computing. Revenue is running at a $3 billion annual pace. Orders topping $10 million are spurring much of Red Hat’s growth, CEO Jim Whitehurst said in December.
PRA Health Services (PRAH) 65% $91.07— Raleigh-based clinical research organization acquired Pennslyvania-based Symphony Health for $530 million. PRA went public at $18 in September 2014.
Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL) 53% $131.55 —High Point-based trucking company is benefiting from the strengthening economy. Earnings per share have increased 16% annually over the last five years.
Novan (NOVN) (-84%) $4.22 — Shares declined 75% on one day in January after trials of its acne-treatment drug proved disappointing. The Morrisville-based company went public in September 2016 at $11, trading as high as $30 in its first month. In 2017, it cut more than 20% of its staff and had $11 million in cash as of Sept. 30, according to Triangle Business Journal.
Cempra (CEMP) (-84%) $3.85 — The Chapel Hill-based drug developer based its hopes on a drug aimed at treating bacterial pneumonia. Federal trials proved inconclusive and the stock plummeted. Company has merged into Melinta Pharmaceuticals of New Haven, Conn. Its ticker is MLNT.
Babcock & Wilcox (BW) (-66%) $5.68 —Shares declined 71% in one August week after reporting an unexpected $119 million quarterly loss, mostly due to a $115 million charge related to financially troubled waste-to-energy plants. The Charlotte-based company, which produces equipment for power plants, also cut its sales projections for 2018 by more than 10%.
Triangle Capital (CEMP) (-48%) $9.49 — Business lender based in Raleigh made a variety of bad credit decisions. The decline was particularly surprising given the improving economy and the company’s secondary stock offering in early 2017. Another business-development company based in North Carolina, Capitala Finance (CPTA) declined 43%.
Cato (CATO) (-47%) $15.92 —Same-store sales collapsed at the Charlotte-based women’s apparel chain. Bad merchandising decisions and competition from rival chains pushed earnings lower. Unlike many retail chains, Cato has no long-term debt.