Stocks rose last week, thankful for a half-point drop in interest rates granted by the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Yonder 40 went along for the ride. The Daily Yonder’s index of 40 stocks representing the rural economy rose a smidgen over two percent last week.
The Dow Industrials and the much larger Standard and Poor’s 500 each climbed 2.8 percent.
Only 12 stocks out of the Yonder 40 dropped in the last week. Lee Enterprises, the newspaper publisher, fell the most, just over seven percent after one analyst recommended that investors sell the stock. Lee reached a 52 week low after the downgrade. Family Dollar Stores dropped just over five percent, most of that loss coming Friday when J. P. Morgan cut its rating from neutral to underweight.
Direct TV rose over 11 percent in the week, also on a rise in one analyst’s rating. Fairport Communications, a rural Internet provider, continued its September charge with a 7.5 percent increase in stock price for the week.
ConAgra reported a 5.2 percent increase in net income for the last quarter ($175.4 million). The company has been an aggressive, and successful, commodity trader recently, according to The Wall Street Journal. ConAgra’s trading operation increased revenues 60 percent; its sales of foods, brands such as Healthy Choice and Hunt’s tomato products, rose by three percent. Meanwhile, the company is trying to save $100 million in costs, partially through plant closings.
Regions Financial Corp. fell only slightly after Merrill Lynch issued a recommendation that investors sell the stock. Regions had risen two percent recently.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. joined with other gun makers in an appearance before a federal appeals court where it is fighting a lawsuit originally filed by New York City (and then Mayor Rudy Giuliani) claiming gun manufacturers and distributors were negligent in marketing weapons. Congress later passed a law aimed at stopping these kinds of suits. Sturm and others were asking the federal appeals court to dismiss New York City’s suit under the federal law.
Finally, in Congress, a representative of the Southern Co., the giant energy provider, said the company would have a hard time reaching a proposed requirement that utilities produce 15 percent of their output from renewable energy sources by 2020. Chris Hobson, a senior vice president at Southern, said the company would have trouble reaching this threshold because the southeast doesn’t have access to reliable solar sources. Hobson said cloud cover and high humidity lower the amount of sunlight available for electric generation.
The Wall Street Journal tells the rest of the story:
“(Rep. Ed) Markey (a Massachusetts Democrat) expressed puzzlement, noting that Florida is known as “˜The Sunshine State.’ “˜On the issue of Florida being The Sunshine State, meaning that a huge percentage of the population from Massachusetts and New York and New Jersey are moving down there based on your advertising – you’re saying to us that it’s really a very cloudy state, and it’s not good for solar, and that perhaps it should be renamed The Cloudy State and not The Sunshine State?” Markey asked.
The full Yonder 40 and its results for the week of September 16-21, 2007, can be found below:
|Companies||Ticker||Price September 21||Price Change for Week||Percent Change for Week|
|Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.||BNI||$81.41||-$0.64||-0.8%|
|Peabody Energy Corp.||BTU||$48.10||$0.68||1.4%|
|ConAgra Foods Inc.||CAG||$26.31||-$0.05||-0.2%|
|Cato Corp. Cl A||CTR||$21.75||$0.79||3.8%|
|Deere & Co.||DE||$147.28||$9.35||6.8%|
|Dean Foods Co.||DF||$26.09||$0.58||2.3%|
|Family Dollar Stores Inc.||FDO||$27.13||-$1.46||-5.1%|
|Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.||FLE||$8.53||-$0.03||-0.4%|
|Gaylord Entertainment Co.||GET||$52.95||$2.00||3.9%|
|International Speedway Corp.||ISCA||$46.83||-$0.30||-0.6%|
|Mohawk Industries Inc.||MHK||$84.16||$0.60||0.7%|
|Mine Safety Appliances Co.||MSA||$48.37||$1.23||2.6%|
|Plum Creek Timber REIT||PCL||$45.01||$2.39||5.6%|
|Penn Virginia Corp.||PVA||$44.06||$3.75||9.3%|
|Regions Financial Corp.||RF||$30.51||-$0.25||-0.8%|
|Sturm Ruger & Co.||RGR||$19.31||$2.00||11.6%|
|Stage Stores Inc.||SSI||$18.85||$0.06||0.3%|
|Tractor Supply Co.||TSCO||$48.43||$0.88||1.9%|
|Waddell & Reed Financial Inc.||WDR||$26.00||$1.44||5.9%|