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Best and worst N.C. stocks in 2017

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.

Biggest decliners:

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.


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

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