Star Tribune 100: Minnesota stocks had a record year in 2013

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 13, 2014 - 2:02 PM

In a year when stock indexes soared, the Star Tribune’s index of Minnesota companies had its biggest gain ever in 2013.

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It was a banner year for the stock market and a historic year for Minnesota-based stocks as a group.

The Bloomberg-Star Tribune 100 index of Minnesota’s largest publicly owned companies rose 49.3 percent in value in 2013.

That’s the best annual performance since the index’s creation in 1998.

It beat the total return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index of America’s largest public corporations, which was up 32.4 percent, and the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies, which rose 38.8 percent.

“It’s fascinating that the Minnesota index outperformed the other indexes, which may mean we are better than the average bear,” said Biff Robillard of Bannerstone Capital Management in Deephaven. “More importantly, we have moved away from what looked like the end of the world in 2008, when the economy and financial world was in trouble and the confidence was gone.”

Just a year ago, Robillard said, investors seemed bearish — worried about politics in Washington and what could go wrong with the economy. “Once in awhile,” he added, “we have to ask, ‘What could go right?’ ”

Last year took the stock market to record highs.

The Minnesota 2013 leaders included XRS Corp., a small mobile-communications provider for the trucking industry that was up 377 percent. Resurgent Best Buy rose 244 percent under a new boss who has a plan that seems to be working. Supervalu, the beaten-down wholesaler and retailer that is restructuring under new management, nearly tripled in price.

Gainers on the Strib 100 outnumbered losers 79 to 19 in 2013.

On the down side, Select Comfort, the adjustable mattress maker known for wide swings in performance, fell 19 percent in value.

The stock market traded marginally higher on Friday, and is up less than 1 percent in 2014. The Star Tribune’s panel of investment analysts expects market returns to slow to single-digit levels this year.

If the stock market rises in 2014, it would be the first time since 1982-88 that the market has increased six years in a row, said Brian Belski, investment strategist at BMO Capital in New York.

The Strib 100 is an index created by Bloomberg, the financial markets information provider, and the Star Tribune to track Minnesota companies as a group.

Stellar gains since 2009

The Strib 100, although not a mutual fund or other investment vehicle, has been a stellar performer since January 2009, near the bottom of the 2008-09 stock market swoon. It posted a total return of 174.5 percent, including reinvested dividends, over the five-year period that ended Dec. 31, 2013. The Russell 2000 was up 149.5 percent and the S&P 500 rose 128 percent over the same five-year span.

The Mairs & Power Growth Fund, based in St. Paul, was up 36 percent in 2013 and about 20 percent annually since 2009. At the core of the fund are blue-chip Minnesota and Midwest companies.

“I wouldn’t say everything worked last year,” said Mairs portfolio manager Mark Henneman. “But the growth fund was driven by the industrial stocks, the most ­economically sensitive companies, and we’ve been overweighted for a long time in companies such as 3M, Pentair, Toro and Graco.”

Those four companies, rose 50 percent or more in value in 2013. That also can be said of industrial staples Tennant Co. and G&K Services.

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