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December was a strong month for Carolinas’ stocks, provided you didn’t own Cempra, the Durham-based drug discovery firm that sank 63% amid mounting evidence that its touted antibiotic will not be a pandemic-stopping blockbuster. Fifty-six stocks reported gains, while 19 declined.

These were the best performing Carolinas-based stocks included in the Capital Investment Cos./Nottingham Index of the 75 largest public companies in December. (We exclude the movements of stocks trading for less than $10, including Cempra, which closed at $2.80.)

World Acceptance (WRLD)  15% – Shares of the Greenville, S.C.-based consumer-finance company have more than doubled since September 2015. At $64, shares trade below 2013 high of $107.

Culp  (CFI)  15% – Making ticking material for mattresses and chairs is a good business in a strong housing market. Shares have increased fivefold in the last decade.

Coke Consolidated (COKE)  14% – After more than doubling in 2015, the giant Charlotte-based bottler treaded water last year, declining 2%.

Three other companies gained more than 10% in December: Park Sterling Bank (PSTB), EnPro Industries (NPO) and HomeTrust Bancshares (HTBI).

The weakest performers:

Red Hat (RHT) (-8%) – Open-source software maker based in Raleigh was hit by slower-than-expected sales to government clients and the departure of CFO Frank Calderoni.

Insteel Industries (IIIN)  (-6%) – Profit taking occurred at the Mt. Airy-based industrial wire maker, which soared 76% in 2016.

HanesBrands (HBI) (-6%) – The Winston-Salem apparel company has lost a third of its value since peaking in March 2015, a victim of a fickle fashion market. But rival Under Armour (UA) hasn’t done any better.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at
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