Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane MSA tops Hart Capital public-company list

Similarly-sized metro areas have fewer such concerns, according to Hart report

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The Inland Northwest has more publicly traded companies than 10 U.S. metropolitan areas with comparable populations that were included in a recent study by Hart Capital Management Inc., a Spokane-based investment firm that offers quarterly market reports on the corporations here.

The metropolitan statistical area of Spokane and Kootenai counties has 13 publicly traded companies, and the next highest number in the study is nine companies in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, S.C., combined statistical area. That is followed by seven companies in each of three regions—Toledo-Fremont, Ohio; Springfield, Mass.; and Syracuse-Auburn, N. Y., the Hart Capital study says.

Craig Hart, Hart Capital's president, says the comparable regions' data was presented recently to a group of chief financial officers here. The Inland Northwest companies' combined market capitalization value, which is a company's share price multiplied by the number of outstanding shares, also is high comparatively, at about $12.3 billion as of the recent third quarter, Hart adds. That ranked it third behind Toledo-Fremont, with its seven publicly traded companies having a market value of $24.9 billion, and the Knoxville, Tenn., metropolitan area at $14.2 billion with five publicly traded companies.

The 13 companies in Spokane and Kootenai counties include Avista Corp., Ambassadors Group Inc., Clearwater Paper Corp., Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., Hecla Mining Co., and Itron Inc. The others are Idaho Independent Bank, Key Tronic Corp., WTB Financial, Northwest Bancorp., Potlatch Corp., Red Lion Hotels Corp., and Sterling Financial Corp.

"It's an undertold story about the diversity and strength of the businesses in our area," Hart says.

All 10 metro areas in the study have a regional population between 600,000 and just over 700,000, which make them similar in size to the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area's combined population of about 610,000. Hart says his company also selected comparable regions that have similar economic dynamics, such as being more of an independent geographical area rather than tied into a large city, such as Los Angeles.

The closest regions geographically—Boise-Nampa, Idaho, and Colorado Springs, Colo.—have six and four publicly traded companies, respectively, the study found.

As for the reason Spokane has a higher number of publicly traded companies, "one can draw conclusions," Hart says. "It suggests Spokane and Coeur d'Alene serves a population of a million people within a 150-mile radius. We're a hub for finance and agriculture and other commodities. That could be one reason."

He adds, "I think it says to our community we actually have a strong thriving region for publicly traded companies."

Hart says he remembers comparisons during the 1990s between the greater Spokane area and Boise. However, many Boise-area companies that were then publicly traded, including Albertsons Inc., since have been bought and are part of bigger companies, he says. In that region, the publicly traded companies there now are Micron Technology Inc., IDACORP Inc., MWI Veterinary Supply Inc., Boise Inc., U.S. Ecology Inc., and Home Federal Bancorp Inc., the study says. They have a total market value of $10.5 billion, based on third-quarter results, it says.

The companies here, meanwhile, are diversified across different industries, Hart adds.

"We're fortunate that we don't have one dominant company that is so large that it would be impacting if it got bought out; that does happen," Hart says. "What we have is diversity, not only in the market capitalization but also in the types of industries in which they operate," including manufacturing, finance, utilities, retail, mining, and hospitality.

Hart adds, "It translates into a stronger economy in many ways. You have a higher level of income for those executive-level positions." He says that translates into more money spent in the community and more donated to charities.

Hart Capital regularly reports its Hart Inland Northwest Composite, which gauges the aggregate market value of 15 companies here, which include the 13 publicly traded companies in the metropolitan area here and also Sandpoint, Idaho-based Coldwater Creek and Intermountain Community Bancorp. Hart Capital also produces another compilation, the quarterly Hart Inland Northwest Index, under an index methodology similar to that of the Standard & Poor's Index.

Publicly traded companies in the top-ranking Toledo metro area include Health Care REIT Inc., Owens Corning, Owens-Illinois Inc., Dana Holding Corp., Andersons Inc., Libbey Inc., and Farmers & Merchants Bancorp.

The greater Knoxville area companies are Scripps Networks Interactive, Regal Entertainment Group, Team Health Holdings Inc., Ruby Tuesday Inc., and Miller Energy Resources Inc.

Ranking behind the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene-area companies and the fourth-place Boise area in public company market capitalization were Wichita-Winfield, Kan.; Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, S.C.; Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.; Syracuse-Auburn, N.Y.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Springfield, Mass.; and Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.

Hart Capital Management, which is located at 601 W. Main downtown, is a privately owned wealth and asset management investment firm with clients located around the Inland Northwest.

Treva Lind
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