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State stocks flourish, beat market averages

Putting money to work close to home paid off last quarter for Florida investors as state stocks once again beat the broad market averages.

Stocks in Robert W. Baird & Co.'s Florida data base rose an average of 10.6 percent during the quarter, compared with a 9.6 percent gain in the Dow Jones industrial average and an 8.8 percent increase in the Standard & Poor's 500 index.

So far this year, the Florida stocks are up an average of 22.3 percent. The stellar performance is primarily due to a strong showing by small-company stocks.

Companies with less than $25-million worth of stock outstanding make up 17 percent of the Florida data base. During some periods those stocks underperform, but lately they've been winners.

Nearly two-thirds of the 216 stocks in the Baird data base were up during the quarter and nearly three-fourths are up year to date.

The biggest winner in the group was Technical Chemicals and Products Inc., which went public in February for $4 a share and closed Friday at $12.63. That makes it one of the year's top-performing initial public offerings.

The Pompano-based company makes medical diagnostic tests, including tests for pregnancy, glucose and illegal drugs, and it is working on a test for the HIV virus.

Technical Chemicals was one of four Florida stocks that doubled during the quarter. No. 2 on the list was Boca Research Inc., which was a big beneficiary of Wall Street's current fascination with technology stocks.

Boca's stock shot up $9.37{ Friday to close at $27 after the company announced it would acquire modem-maker Hayes Microcomputer Products Inc.

Investors also doubled their money in shares of Elcotel Inc., a Sarasota pay-phone company, and Florida Gaming Corp. of Fort Pierce.

Four Tampa Bay companies ranked among the top 10 performers during the quarter, led by Precision Systems Inc. of St. Petersburg, a spinoff of Home Shopping Network Inc. The company makes telecommunications equipment using interactive voice, data and video technology.

Also ranking high on the list of top gainers were Kash n' Karry Food Stores Inc., Transcor Waste Services Inc. of Tampa and Silver King Communications Inc. of St. Petersburg.

A Tampa Bay company also led the losers list. Pages Inc., a St. Petersburg-based publisher and distributor of children's books, lost half its value during the quarter. The company has had continuing financial difficulties and reported in May that talks of a possible sale had been discontinued.

Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc. of Clearwater also was among the big losers.

Florida stocks: winners, losers

Here are the best and the worst performers among Florida stocks during the second quarter, their current stock prices and the change during the quarter. (Prices are rounded to the nearest cent.)

GAINERS

Technical Chemicals & Products (TCPI) $12.63 +153%

Pompano, medical diagnostic devices

Boca Research Inc. (BOCI) $27.00 +143%

Boca Raton, computer equipment

Elcotel Inc. (ECTL) $9.25 +124%

Sarasota, pay telephone equipment

Florida Gaming Corp. (BETS) $8.75 +106%

Fort Pierce, jai-alai and betting

Precision Systems Inc. (PSYS) $7.13 +90%

St. Petersburg, telecommunications equipment

Consolidated Stainless Inc. (PIPE) $11.63 +89%

Longwood, steel pipe

Kash 'n Karry Food Stores (KASH) $33.75 +75%

Tampa, grocery chain

Transcor Waste Services (TRCW) $5.25 +75%

Tampa, waste disposal

Dycom Industries (DY) $6.75 +69%

West Palm Beach, engineering, construction

Silver King Communications (SKTV) $16.25 +63%

St. Petersburg, broadcasting

LOSERS

Pages Inc. (PAGZ) $3.22 -53%

St. Petersburg, children's books

Chicos FAS Inc. (CHCS) $4.25 -43%

Ft. Myers, women's clothing

Brothers Gourmet Coffee (BEAN) $7.25 -43%

Boca Raton, specialty coffees

National Registry Inc. (NRID) $1.75 -43%

St. Petersburg, electronic identification

Sunbeam Corp. (SOC) $13.88 -39%

Fort Lauderdale, consumer electronics, appliances

Todhunter International Inc. (TODH) $9.25 -33%

West Palm Beach, alcoholic beverages

Able Telcom Holding Corp. (ABTE) $5.75 -31%

Fort Lauderdale, telecommunications equipment

Checkers Drive-in Restaurants (CHKR) $1.94 -30%

Clearwater, hamburger chain

Empire of Carolina (EMP) $8.50 -29%

Delray Beach, recreational products

Jan Bell Marketing (JMB) $2.31 -29%

Sunrise, jewelry distributor

Source: Robert W. Baird & Co.

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