STOCKS’ POOR SHOW
Lower prices for oil, gas and other commodities, combined with food quality problems at Chipotle Mexican Grill, pushed an index of Colorado stocks to its worst showing since the 2008 financial crisis.
Low oil prices and foodborne illnesses push the Colorado index to its worst year since the 2008 crisis.
Colorado stocks in 2015 suffered their worst year since the 2008 financial crisis, weighed down by weak commodity prices and a sickening situation at Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Bloomberg Colorado index, which tracks 75 public companies based in the state, declined 17.4 percent in 2015, a performance that severely lagged behind the larger market.
The S& P 500, which was still positive for the year as recently as Wednesday, ended 2015 down 0.73 percent, its worst showing since 2008. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 2.23 percent, while the Nasdaq composite rose 5.73 percent.
“Most market indexes showed small losses for 2015, but this masked the brutal bear market inmany stocks impacted by oil prices below $ 40 a barrel,” said Fred Taylor, president of Northstar Investment Advisors in Denver.
Similar to 2008, investors had few places to hide, with every asset class either negative or up only slightly, Taylor said.
An exception were two narrow groups of eight stocks, known as FANG and NOSH, that include Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Investors piled into the popular names in such large numbers that those stocks held up the overall market.
Colorado lacked any of the hottest names. It didn’t help matters when shares of Denver- based fast- casual chain Chipotle, a longtime favorite of investors, fell 29.9 percent after E. coli and norovirus outbreaks sickened hundreds of customers.
The Bloomberg Colorado Index is price- weighted, meaning higherpriced stocks have more influence. Chipotle shares, which ended the year at $ 479.85, account for about a fifth of the index’s weight.
Colorado’s company mix skews heavily toward natural resources. The big drop in oil prices to below $ 40 a barrel hammered most petroleum producers, while lower metal and coal prices pushed down mining stocks.
Emerald Oil, the worst performer in the state last year among the petroleum companies still left standing, lost 95.3 percent. Magellan Petroleum fell 92.5 percent.
The troubles in oil and gas spilled over to alternative energy. Real Goods Solar shares shed 93.5 percent, and shares of biofuel maker Gevo lost 87.1 percent.
More than two dozen Colorado stocks dropped by more than half, but about 30 percent managed to
show positive returns.
The brightest star in an otherwise dark year for Colorado’s public companies was Heska Corp., a Loveland maker of diagnostic tests and treatments for animals. Its shares rose 113.3 percent.
“We had great new products, and we are launching them through a culture that has been strong for a long time and that we are building on,” said Jason Napolitano, Heska’s chief operating and financial officer.
Heksa’s medical imaging products continued to sell well, and the HT5, a new blood analyzer that requires smaller samples than rivals’ products, proved popular with customers.
After Heska came Colorado Springs- based gaming operator Century Casinos, whose shares were up 54.1 percent.
Core Site Realty, a Denver based real estate investment trust that specializes in data centers; Meridian- based communications tech firm CSG Systems International; and Broomfield- based ski resort operator Vail Resorts all had 40 percent plus gains in share value.
Chipotle shares, which ended the year at $ 479.85, fell 29.9 percent after E. coli and norovirus outbreaks sickened customers. Don Ryan, AP