Jan. 01--The rising tide on Wall Street is certainly lifting Kansas City's fleet of local stocks.
Here's what Avondale Partners analyst Pete Heckmann noticed about the list of stocks he follows from offices in Overland Park.
"Of all the names, some of the Kansas City ones have done really, really well," Heckmann said.
Euronet Worldwide Inc. up 102.8 percent, NIC Inc. up 52.2 percent, DST Systems Inc. up 49.7 percent and Epiq Systems Inc. up 26.8 percent.
All four beat the Dow Jones industrial average, which posted its best year since 1995.
Each company runs solidly on business that generates recurring streams of revenue from clients. Heckmann said they benefited as managers found themselves with new inflows of money from clients to invest.
"Instead of going out and buying something that might or might not work, they said, 'Let's buy some of these steady Eddies,'" Heckmann said.
As a further sign that Kansas City is sharing in Wall Street's fortune, the list of local stocks is growing again.
Aratana Therapeutics Inc. in Kansas City, Kan., QTS Realty Trust Inc. in Overland Park and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., based in Leawood and privately owned for nine years, became publicly traded in 2013.
Regional stocks fared well, too, with nearly half beating the Dow, the Standard & Poor's 500, Russell 2000 and Nasdaq stock indexes for the year.
Sprint a 'new' stock
The comparison excludes one key local company, Sprint Corp.
In July, Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp. became Sprint's principal owner, plus a source of funding and expertise in new wireless technologies. The deal allowed Sprint to purchase its longtime network partner Clearwire Corp.
Because of the way the deals were structured, Sprint's new stock isn't directly comparable to its old stock, and that prevents Bloomberg from calculating an annual performance.
Sprint shareholders aren't likely to complain. At the time of the deal, their old shares had gained 26.6 percent for the year. Sprint's new shares have jumped 93.7 percent since their debut on July 8.
Certainly, 2013 was a big year for the Overland Park-based wireless carrier. And it is widely reported, though not confirmed, that Sprint may be readying a bid for No. 4 T-Mobile US Inc. sometime this year.
Analysts say the key question for 2014 is what Sprint makes of its renewal.
Looking ahead, analyst Adam Ilkowitz at Nomura Equities Research, says forget the cost savings SoftBank's ownership can deliver, or any hope of a merger with T-Mobile.
He says Sprint is poised to generate more revenue even as it cuts costs. Do the math. It means profits, perhaps even a dividend for stockholders in 2017, according to Ilkowitz.
The seed for all this is Sprint's total network makeover, which has been costly but he sees as ultimately rewarding.
"We believe Sprint is finally spending the capital needed to run an efficient, modern mobile network to compete with peers after years of underinvestment," Ilkowitz said in a 24-page analysis in which he upgraded Sprint shares to a buy rating.
He said half the financial improvement _ $2 billion worth _ will come from wrapping up the expensive network upgrade, ending the remaining costs tied to the old Nextel network shuttered last June and shedding roaming payments to other carriers as Sprint's new network emerges.
Top that off with even "modest revenue growth" of 4 percent a year, and the math turns strongly in Sprint's favor, Ilkowitz said.
Analyst Kevin Smithen at Macquarie Equities Research has been bullish on Sprint's stock _ until recently. He downgraded it from buy to neutral a few days before Ilkowitz's report.
The new development, Smithen wrote in his report, is that Sprint's upside potential has been joined by "a risk of a meaningful drop" that he said could reach 20 percent.
Smithen still likes the company's long-term plan and its backing by SoftBank. The damage, he warned, could come if the rollout of Sprint's faster network is delayed, or Sprint kee