Spokane Journal of Business

Inland Northwest stock index rises slightly in first quarter

Market cap, however, declines during period

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Hart Capital Management Inc., a Spokane-based investment firm, says the stock value of 14 publicly traded Inland Northwest companies, as measured in an overall index it compiles, rose 0.5 percent percent in the first quarter of 2014, lagging behind the Standard & Poor’s 500, which increased 1.3 percent during the same period. 

When measuring the 12-month period that ended March 31, the Inland Northwest index grew by 5.9 percent, compared with a 19.3 percent increase by the S&P 500 and a 23.3 percent by the Russell 2000 in that same period, Hart Capital says in its quarterly report.

Hart’s index uses a methodology similar to that of the S&P 500.

The top-performing stocks in the Hart Capital index during the first quarter were Clearwater Paper Corp. (CLW), Avista Corp. (AVA), and Intermountain Community Bancorp (IMCB), with respective increases of 19.4 percent, 8.7 percent, and 7.6 percent. 

Coldwater Creek Inc.’s stock performance was the weakest in the Hart index, with its stock plummeting 78.7 percent for the quarter, due primarily to what Hart Capital calls liquidity concerns caused by ongoing business challenges.

Other companies showing declines in stock performance were Potlatch Corp., Itron Inc., and Ambassadors Group Inc., down 7.3 percent, 14.2 percent, and 14.8 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Hart Capital also compiles what it calls the Inland Northwest Composite to track the aggregate market value of the same 14 publicly traded companies, which ended the quarter at an aggregate value of $10.2 billion. Market value, or capitalization, is share price multiplied by the number of outstanding shares. 

In the first quarter, the composite here fell $68.2 million, or 0.7 percent, for the quarter, with declines in market value that included $284 million for Potlatch and $431 million for Itron.

Hart Capital reports the main reason for the discrepancy between the index and composite first-quarter performances was the relative weakness of Potlatch and Itron, two of the larger publicly traded companies here in terms of capitalization.

Due to Coeur Mining Inc.’s relocation of its headquarters from Coeur d’Alene to Chicago, the company hasn’t been included in the index and composite for the past three quarters. Hart Capital says as a result, the composite decreased $1.45 billion, or 12.5 percent, from a year ago. Excluding the effect of Coeur dropping from the list, the composite increased by $250 million, or 2.5 percent, from a year ago. 

Bank stocks significantly outperformed others during the trailing 12 months with stock prices for Idaho Independent Bank (IIBK), Sterling Financial Corp. (STSA), and Northwest Bancorporation Inc. (NBCT) increasing by 62.8 percent, 53.7 percent, and 32.5 percent, respectively.

Sterling’s stock performance was boosted by its upcoming merger with Umpqua Holdings Corp., parent company for Oregon’s largest bank. The company recently announced the merger will close on April 18. Umpqua is paying about $1.9 billion in stock for Sterling, the largest financial institution headquartered in Spokane County. As such, Sterling will be removed from the Hart Capital index and composite next quarter, which will drop the total number of companies tracked to 13.

In addition to the companies mentioned, other companies in the Hart index and composite include Key Tronic Corp., Red Lion Hotels Corp., Intermountain Community Bancorp., Hecla Mining Co., and Washington Trust Bank.

Hart Capital, located at 601 W. Main in downtown Spokane, is a privately owned wealth and asset management investment company with clients located around the Inland Northwest. It started issuing its quarterly report in 2006.

Judith  Spitzer
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Reporter Judith Spitzer covers technology, mining, agriculture, and wood products for the Journal. A vintage-obsessed antique collector in her off hours, Judith worked as a journalist in Colorado and Oregon before joining the Journal.

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