Make us your home page

For many Tampa Bay area stocks, 2009 was banner year

Flanked by chief operating officer Thomas Cason, Aerosonic Corp. CEO Douglas Hillman, left, holds an Electronic Flight Instrument System that Aerosonic manufactures. The company’s stock was the bay area’s top performer over the past year.


Flanked by chief operating officer Thomas Cason, Aerosonic Corp. CEO Douglas Hillman, left, holds an Electronic Flight Instrument System that Aerosonic manufactures. The company’s stock was the bay area’s top performer over the past year.

You know 2009 was a fabulous year for bay area stocks when a company whose shares soared 184 percent didn't make the cut of the five hottest.

Indeed, of 41 bay area stocks tracked by the St. Petersburg Times, more than a third saw their prices at least double. Thirty companies, more than 70 percent, ended the year on the upside.

The region's biggest public companies, Tech Data and Jabil Circuit, both relished huge stock gains north of 150 percent.

Coming after a painful 2008 in which only one sizable bay area public company wound up with a higher stock price (Tampa call center operator Sykes Enterprises), it was quite the rebound year.

None of the superstar local performers of 2009 could top Aerosonic Corp. The Clearwater airplane parts maker posted a whopping 553 percent return.

The surge was all the more sweet for the 200-employee company given Aerosonic's rough 2008: a management shakeup; a devastating fire at its Clearwater plant on Hercules Avenue that temporarily crippled its ability to make virtually its entire product line; and a credit squeeze that forced it to turn to its customers for financial support.

"A lot of things that happened to us could have sunk of lot of companies," Aerosonic spokesman Mark Perkins said. "A lot of people, I think, wrote us off. That was one reason the stock was so low and rebounded so far."

In December, the company reported a third-quarter profit of $728,000 on $7.5 million in sales, compared with a loss of $992,000 on just $2.9 million in sales in the year-ago period.

Perkins credited the rebound to loyal employees, customers who stuck by Aerosonic and a new management team headed by CEO Doug Hillman and chief operating officer Tom Cason.

"The most important thing has been the support of our customers to stay with us as we went through our pain and regained our footing," he said.

The year was toughest on a pair of well-known Tampa Bay companies. Stock in treasure salvager Odyssey Marine Research sank by 56 percent, while shares in Utek Corp. fell 52 percent as the Tampa company tried to switch gears from investor in promising startups to a largely consultant role.

The Times ranking omitted area companies that were not public for a full year, leaving out the phenomenal run of Walter Energy spinoff Walter Investment Management (WAC). Since the real estate investment trust containing mortgage loans was created in April through a reverse merger with Hanover Capital Mortgage Holdings, Walter Investment has seen its stock price double to more than $14 a share.

The breakout of best and worst performers also omits those that ended the year trading below $1 a share.

The stock that came in No. 6, with a 184 percent return? Kudos to WellCare Health Plans, which was inched out of the top five by the 193 percent return posted by Nicholas Financial. A year ago, both were among our five worst stocks.

Jeff Harrington can be reached at or (727) 893-8242.

2009 local stock performances


1. Aerosonic Corp. (AIM), closing price: $4.44, up 553 percent

2. Sypris Solutions (SYPR), closing price: $2.82, up 348 percent

3. Cryo-Cell International Inc. (CCEL.OB), closing price: $1.78, up 324 percent

4. Walter Energy Inc. (WLT), closing price: $75.31, up 318 percent

5. Nicholas Financial (NICK), closing price: $6.89, up 193 percent


1. Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. (OMEX), closing price: $1.41, down

56 percent

2. Utek Corp. (UTK), closing price: $4.25, down 52 percent

3. First Community Bank Corp. of America (FCFL), closing price: $2.41, down 49 percent

4. Brown & Brown Inc. (BRO), closing price: $17.97, down 14 percent

5. Flanders Corp. (FLDR), closing price: $4.46, down 5 percent

Coming Sunday: Comprehensive listing of 2009 year-end stocks

For many Tampa Bay area stocks, 2009 was banner year 12/31/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 8:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Triad Retail Media names Sherry Smith as CEO


    ST. PETERSBURG — Triad Retail Media, a St. Petersburg-based digital ads company, said CEO Roger Berdusco is "leaving the company to pursue new opportunities" and a member of the executive team, Sherry Smith, is taking over.

    Roger Berdusco is stepping down as CEO at Triad Retail Media to pursue other opportunities. [Courtesy of Triad Retail Media]
  3. Two new condo projects for same street in downtown St. Pete

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — It lacks the panache and name recognition of Beach Drive, but 4th Avenue N in downtown St. Petersburg is becoming a condo row in its own right.

    Bezu, a condo project planned at 100 4th Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg, will have 24 units including a three-level penthouse with infinity pool.
[Courtesy of Clear ph Design]
  4. AAA expects gas prices in Tampa Bay will continue to fall


    Ticking slowly and steadily, regular gas prices have receded for the last 10 consecutive days. The average unleaded gas price in Florida is $2.67 this morning, a nickel cheaper than a week ago. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas has dropped 7 cents from a week ago to $2.62. The national average for regular …

    Gas prices for regular gas continue to decline. In Tampa Bay, the current average unleaded gas is down 7 cents from a week ago at $2.62 a gallon. [Times file photo]
  5. Kiran and Pallavi Patel commit $200 million for Clearwater medical school

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Tampa Bay philanthropists Dr. Kiran Patel and his wife, Dr. Pallavi Patel are spending $200 million to create and promote a Tampa Bay regional campus for the private Nova Southeastern University.

    Drs. Kiran and Pallavi Patel, prolific Tampa Bay philanthropists, are putting up $200 million to create and run a new medical school under Nova Southeastern University. Here is a rendering of the proposed campus [Courtesy of Nova Southestern University}