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Who's thriving? Try 5 Tampa Bay companies that stand out from pack in growth, stock price

Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans is among the biggest winners of the year among local public companies. [Handout photo]

Tampa-based WellCare Health Plans is among the biggest winners of the year among local public companies. [Handout photo]

Part 1 of 2 columns looking at which publicly traded companies in the Tampa Bay market are performing especially well right now. Part 2, which looks at a handful of area firms losing money or struggling, appears tomorrow.

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Welcome to the fast lane of Tampa Bay's public companies where stocks are roaring to record heights and bottom lines are setting new highs in revenues and earnings. Maybe it sounds so easy that these five companies — ones making their marks in health care, financial services, tech distribution, building products and recreational boat retailing — are recently enjoying remarkable runs. After all, the stock market's still on a rocket ride — the Dow soared 303 points to 21,115 on Wednesday — since President Trump took office. Are these five simply along for the ride? • No way. These local businesses have demonstrated focused strategies, resilient turnarounds and great execution. Watch them and learn. Tomorrow's column will examine another five companies operating in the Tampa Bay market that have not been so lucky or, perhaps, as smart.

Related coverage: Trigaux: Even as stock markets soar, these five Tampa Bay firms face big hurdles

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1. WellCare Health Plans, Tampa: Doubling its stock price in a year

What stronger way is there to say that WellCare is on a roll than to say its stock price now hovers near $140 a share, and it was half that early last year? The company's market cap or net worth stand above $6 billion, making it another potential breakout company that is based in the Tampa Bay metro area. (Raymond James was the first in recent times to break out of the regional pack.)

WellCare. which provides Medicare/Medicaid government-sponsored managed care services, reported revenues of $3.5 billion in the latest quarter and $14.2 billion for all of 2016. Big numbers by Tampa Bay standards.

"Over the past two and a half years, we have invested in our people, our processes, and our tools," CEO Ken Burdick told analysts. "We strengthened our foundation. Last year, we embarked on our growth journey after a self-imposed 18-month hiatus."

The trip is going quite well so far. Shares that one year ago traded in the low $90s closed Wednesday at $143.97.

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2. Raymond James Financial, St. Petersburg: Fast growing and room for more

Record revenues helped drive record profits for the investment banking firm in its latest quarter. It's becoming a familiar theme at RayJay, which seems to have found a sweet spot for recruiting and keeping veteran financial advisors from bigger Wall Street firms, rapidly boosting its number of wealth managers serving clients across the country. Not that the firm is relying only on old school growth. Later this year it will launch a "robo adviser" as it (and other firms) start using automated-investing technology side by side with its advisors to control costs and better handle the multitrillion-dollar generational wealth transfer that's now under way.

"Everyone seems to be going robo, robo, robo," CEO Paul Reilly told analysts in his quarterly comments. So far, most if not all systems are go. Raymond James' stock is rising to all time highs, closing at $81.04. And the company now boasts a market value above $11.3 billion — the first among Tampa Bay's modern crop of public corporations to break $10 billion. Even fast growing WellCare Health Plans is barely more than half that size.

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3. Tech Data Corp., Clearwater: Closer to completing its global footprint

Technology distributor Tech Data already was Tampa Bay's highest ranked company on the Fortune 500 at No. 108 before it completed its $2.6 billion purchase of the Technology Solutions business of Avnet. Now Tech Data's even bigger. Combined, the company gains its first presence in the Asia-Pacific region. That gives Tech Data operations in 40 countries, with 14,000 employees serving close to 115,000 customers in more than 100 countries.

Under the careful, controlled growth plans of CEO Bob Dutkowsky, Tech Data's expanded geographically, by expanding its hardware and software offerings and, most of all, by pushing into new industries and better setting the table for the company to become a major player in the next big tech era known as "IoT" or the Internet of Things.

Investors seem to like what they see. Tech Data stock broke the $90-per-share barrier Wednesday for the first time in the company's history.

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4. Masonite, Tampa: A big maker of doors in a booming housing market

Never underestimate a business that makes a product that's been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Door maker Masonite is on a roll with its stock soaring nearly 18 percent in just the past month. Not bad for a company that in 2015 lost $47 million. Last year, its net income surged to $99 million. The housing market is booming. Houses need doors. And Masonite's doing a good job of making ones people like, and can afford.

Masonite CEO Fred Lynch cited new business it's doing with the home improvement chain Lowe's, which looks likely to bring in close to $50 million annually. He also says the company's won new business this spring with Home Depot's Florida stores, which should also yield about $50 million a year.

"Our strategic investment in digital capabilities is ongoing," Lynch said, "as evidenced by our new digital innovation center in Ybor City." The center will become Masonite's base for designing and developing new digital tools to improve the "customer experience for selecting, ordering and buying a door."

Masonite shares closed Wednesday at $79.10 which — perhaps no surprise in this column — is at a modern high for this door maker.

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5. MarineMax, Clearwater: Sinking feeling ends for major boat retailer

So long, Davey Jones Locker. The nation's largest boat retailer is finally starting to see consistent consumer enthusiasm and spending on boats after a rough recovery from the recession.

Revenue in the latest quarter ended Dec. 31 grew more than 33 percent to $226.9 million from a year ago. Same-store sales soared 28 percent while the company's net income of $2.6 million was 3.7 times what it earned in the same quarter of 2015.

"As we enter the important boat show season, consumer confidence remains near recent highs, our backlog remains above last year and we have more new models for our team to sell," said an upbeat Bill McGill, company CEO. MarineMax shares closed at $22.50, a price not seen since mid-2015.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

Who's thriving? Try 5 Tampa Bay companies that stand out from pack in growth, stock price 03/01/17 [Last modified: Thursday, March 2, 2017 6:29pm]
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