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Tampa Bay area companies post big gains as market soars

As uplifting as Monday was for shell-shocked Wall Street, it was even better for public companies active in the Tampa Bay area.

More than 20 companies either based here or with a major presence in the region posted double-digit percentage gains, with financial stocks leading the way.

Cheered by news of the U.S. Treasury's plan to help banks get rid of toxic assets, investors flocked to many of the banks that received federal bailout money. Head of the class was Bank of America, whose shares jumped $1.61, or 26 percent, to close at $7.80. Close behind were JPMorgan Chase, up 24.7 percent; Wells Fargo, up 23.9 percent; Citigroup, up 19.5 percent; and, among smaller banks, Pinellas Park-based First Community Bank Corp. of America, up 19.4 percent.

Other financial stocks faring well: SunTrust Banks, up 17.1 percent; Synovus Financial, up 15.9 percent; Raymond James Financial, up 15.1 percent; and Fifth Third, up 13.2 percent.

Even BB&T shrugged off a Goldman Sachs' report that said it had well-above-average exposure to problem loans and had not been aggressive enough in taking charge-offs with rising delinquent construction loans. BB&T shares closed up 9.9 percent.

But the gains weren't contained to banks. Tampa managed-care company WellCare Health Plans, Tampa staffing firm Kforce Inc., Tampa coal company Walter Industries and Clearwater boat seller MarineMax all posted significant gains.

Only a few, small bay area companies wound up in the red. The only one of those that trades above $1 a share was Aerosonic Corp., an aircraft electronics manufacturer based in Clearwater. Its shares closed at $1.65, down 8 cents, or 4.6 percent.

Tampa Bay area companies post big gains as market soars 03/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 23, 2009 9:58pm]
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