Dec. 31--The best local stock to own last year spent almost the entire year in bankruptcy.
Investors fortunate enough to own AMR Corp. shares a year ago saw their investment grow more than 1,300 percent as the perceived value of the new American Airlines Group increased. Southwest Airlines also had a strong year as investors applauded the results of industry consolidation.
Other big gainers among shares of companies based in North Texas benefitted from improved consumer spending, a stronger housing market and higher oil prices.
1. American Airlines (AAMRQ, $11.39, +1,333%)
AMR shareholders started the year thinking their stock in the bankruptcy airline worth less than a dollar a share. But after the parent of American Airlines agreed to merge with US Airways, the value of AMR shares began to take off, producing a more than 13-fold gain for 2013 by Dec. 9, when the merger closed and the stock stopped trading.
Although shareholders typically get wiped out during the bankruptcy process, the merger deal guaranteed that AMR shareholders would receive at least 3.5 percent of the equity in the new company. And with shares of the new American Airlines Group (ticker: AAL) trading around $25, shareholders may receive an even larger stake once creditors and debtholders are paid off with shares over the next 120 days.
2. Nexstar (NXST, $55.73, +426%)
Irving-based Nexstar Broadcasting had its stock value jump over 400 percent in 2013 as the company continued to buy television stations in several markets. The company owns 72 broadcast stations that reach about 13.8 million households, Nexstar says on its website. But that number will grow as the firm agreed to buy Grant Company for $87.5 million in November, which will add seven stations in Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia and Alabama.
3. Zale ( ZLC, $15.77, +284%)
The Irving-based retailer capped off a three-year turnaround engineered by Chief Executive Officer Theo Killion by reporting its first annual profit in five years as the improved economy and rising stock prices put more money in consumer pocketbooks. Net earnings reached $10 million for the year ended July 31, compared to a net loss of $27 million the previous year, and same-store sales increased by 3.3 percent. The improved sales picture continued into its first fiscal quarter, ended Oct. 31, as same-store sales increased for the 12th consecutive quarter.
4. Mannatech Inc., (MTEX, $16.96, +202%)
After five straight years of annual losses and falling sales, shareholders of Coppell-based Mannatech were ready for some good news. It arrived at mid-year, when the multi-level marketer of nutritional supplements finally showed a 3.7 percent sales increase and eked out an $800,000 net profit for the second quarter. That small glimmer launched a climb in the company's shares from about $11 to nearly $35 before it backed of at year's end. It had started the year at less than $6.
5. U.S. Concrete (USCR, $22.63), +150%)
An improving economy and housing market helped the construction business in 2013 and benefitted this Euless-based producer of ready-mix cement and aggregates. Through the first nine months of the year, operating income increased to $18.1 million from $1.5 million in 2012, and revenues increased by 17 percent to $463.8 million. In July, the company expanded its North Texas operations by adding concrete plants in Wylie, Rockwall and Forney.
6. Emerge Energy Services (EMES, $44.33, +161%)
Southlake-based Emerge Energy Services picked a good year to go public, launching its IPO in May and riding the continuing drilling boom. The company, a master limited partnership, has two principal businesses: selling sand used in hydraulic fracturing and fuel refining and distribution. Through the year's first nine months of 2013, revenue was up 39 percent and net income was up 8 percent, with fuel accounting for about 80 percent of sales. Emerge was created in April 2012 by Insight Equity, a Southlake private equity firm that dates to 2002.
7. GameStop (GME, $49.26, +96%)