The U.S. stock market rebounded big in 2019, following a dismal 2018.
The tech-heavy NASDAQ Composite index was up 35% in 2019, the S&P 500 rose 29% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 22%. It was the best year for the NASDAQ and S&P since 2013, and the biggest gain for the Dow since 2017.
All three of those indexes recovered from declines in 2018, which was the worst year for the U.S. stock market since 2008.
Most publicly-held companies in southeastern Wisconsin also saw their stock prices increase in 2019. Of the 35 publicly-held companies tracked by BizTimes Milwaukee, 25 posted stock price increases during the year.
The biggest local gainer was Waukesha-based Generac Power Systems Inc., which saw its stock price increase 102% in 2019 to $100.59 a share. The company made several acquisitions to push into the clean energy space in 2019 and in late October chief executive officer Aaron Jagdfeld said precautionary power outages in California implemented to prevent wildfires were creating a new level of interest in home standby generators made by Generac. The company said that could lead to $200 million in new annual sales for the company in the future.
The second biggest local gainer is on its way out of Milwaukee. Gardner Denver Holdings Inc. saw its stock price rise 79% in 2019 to $36.68 a share. Milwaukee-based Gardner Denver will merge with Ingersoll Rand’s industrial segment. The headquarters for the combined operations will be in Davidson, North Carolina.
The third biggest local gainer was Milwaukee-based REV Group, which saw its stock price rise 63% to $12.23 a share. REV Group was the area’s biggest stock price loser in 2018 (its stock price fell 77% to $7.51 a share in 2018), and bounced back some in 2019.
The fourth biggest local gainer last year was Brookfield-based Fiserv, which had a 57% increase in its stock price to $115.63 in 2019. During the year, Fiserv acquired New York-based First Data Corp. in a $22 billion all-stock deal that combined two Fortune 500 firms.
The biggest loser for local stocks in 2019 was Milwaukee-based Jason Industries Inc., which saw its stock price fall 73% to just 37 cents a share. The company sold off its Metalex and fiber solutions segment (comprised primarily of Janesville Acoustics).
Of southeastern Wisconsin’s publicly-held companies, Quad/Graphics had the second biggest drop in stock price in 2019. Its stock price fell 62% to $4.67 a share.
In 2018, Sussex-based Quad announced it would acquire Chicago-based LSC Communications in a massive $1.4 billion deal, combining the nation’s two largest printing companies. But in 2019 those plans were spoiled by the U.S. Department of Justice, which in June sued the companies to block the deal. The DOJ argued that if the deal had been approved, Quad/Graphics would have dominated the magazine, catalog and book printing markets.
In trying to make the case for the importance of the deal, Quad and LSC said their combined revenue would drop by more than $1.5 billion by 2022 without combining or taking other actions. However, instead of fighting back against the DOJ’s lawsuit, the companies agreed to walk away from the deal, which required Quad to pay LSC a $45 million termination fee.
Later in the year, Quad announced plans to sell its U.S. book business, which it acquired in 2010 as part of its World Color transaction and generates around $200 million in annual sales. The company also sold Transpak, its heavy-duty industrial wood crating business, in 2019.
After the significant decline in Quad’s stock price, a pair of lawsuits was filed against the company alleging it had not adequately disclosed its performance.
The third largest local stock loser in 2019 was Wauwatosa-based Briggs & Stratton, which saw its stock price fall 49% in 2019 to $6.66 per share. The company closed a plant in Kentucky, citing a lack of demand for walk-behind mowers. Briggs reported a net loss of $54.1 million in its 2019 fiscal year, much worse than its $11.3 million net loss in fiscal 2018.
Milwaukee-area stock performance
Generac Holdings Inc.
Gardner Denver Holdings, Inc.
REV Group, Inc.
Douglas Dynamics, Inc.
Artisan Partners Asset Management, Inc.
Westbury Bancorp, Inc.
Johnson Controls International plc
MGIC Investment Corp.
Rockwell Automation, Inc.
WEC Energy Group Inc
Badger Meter, Inc.
Johnson Outdoors Inc.
Manitowoc Company, Inc.
Sensient Technologies Corp.
Physicians Realty Trust
Waterstone Financial, Inc.
A. O. Smith Corp.
Weyco Group, Inc.
Strattec Security Corp.
Twin Disc, Inc.
Modine Manufacturing Co.
Briggs & Stratton Corp.
Jason Industries, Inc.
All data gathered by Robert W. Baird & Co. from Factset Research Systems. This information has been obtained from sources we consider to be reliable, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy.