Local stocks show signs of life

The BizTimes Stock Index rallied in the second quarter to erase its earlier deficits and post a gain of 6.8 percent for the year-to-date.

The weighted index, which represents the cumulative values of the stocks of publicly traded companies based in southeastern Wisconsin, rose to 96.56 at the end of the second quarter, up from 90.39 at the start of the year.

The local index stands far below its 52-week high of 147.25, but well above its low of 63.83 for the past year.

Only 13 of the 35 local stocks managed to post gains in the first half of the year.

The largest local gainer in the first half of the year was Merge Technologies Inc., a West Allis-based health care technology provider that does business as Merge Healthcare. The company, which had been struggling with financial problems, saw its stock climb 235.94 percent to $4.30 per share after announcing a restructuring plan in June.

The year has been tumultuous so far for Merge Technologies, which replaced top management and said it would cut a sixth of its workforce this year.

In early June, the company said chief executive Kenneth Rardin, chief financial officer Steven Norton and the presidents of two divisions all had resigned. The company named Justin Dearborn, who was managing director and general counsel of Merrick Ventures, a Chicago holding company, as CEO. Steven Oreskovich was promoted to CFO.

In May, Merge said it entered a financing agreement with Merrick’s parent. Merge said it would cut about 60 of its 360 employees and take a second-quarter charge of at least $6 million.

The other local companies’ stocks that gained in the first half of the year were: Metavante Technologies Inc. (up 60.52 percent); Joy Global Inc. (up 56.05 percent); Bucyrus International Inc. (up 54.21 percent); Koss Corp. (up 50.38 percent); Badger Meter Inc. (up 41.28 percent); MGIC Investment Corp. (up 26.44 percent); Fiserv Inc. (up 25.68 percent); Manpower Inc. (up 24.57 percent); Johnson Controls Inc. (up 19.60 percent); Kohl’s Corp. (up 18.09 percent); A.O. Smith Corp. (up 10.33 percent); and Brady Corp. (up 4.89 percent).

The largest local decliners for the year so far were: Marshall & Ilsley Corp. (down 64.81 percent); Journal Communications Inc. (down 57.14 percent); MagneTek Inc. (down 42.08 percent); Actuant Corp. (down 35.86 percent); and Marcus Corp. (down 35.18 percent).  n

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