The world’s largest private-sector coal miner has fallen on hard times, losing 92% of its value in two years. Peabody took a $1.4 billion writedown on its biggest mine, in Wyoming. A Christmas Eve agreement with lenders let it avoid a second bankruptcy filing in five years, but the long-term outlook for coal is bleak.
The coronavirus pandemic boosted the fortunes of Allied Healthcare Products, a manufacturer of respirators, but it was bad for several other St. Louis companies. Two big coal miners, a shoe retailer and a life reinsurance company were among the firms negatively affected by COVID-19.
Here’s a summary of the stock market’s biggest winners and losers in 2020 among public companies that have their headquarters or top executives in the St. Louis area.
David Nicklaus | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Peabody Energy -74%
Arch Resources -39%
As utilities turn away from coal as a fuel source, Arch has emphasized its mines that produce a grade of coal used in making steel. After a judge blocked a proposed joint venture with rival Peabody, it outlined a strategy for getting out of the thermal-coal market entirely. Arch even took the word “coal” out of its name, substituting the more flexible-sounding “resources.” Investors, though, aren’t keen on coal companies under any name.
Shoe seller Caleres did its part to fight the coronavirus, converting a Wisconsin factory to manufacture face masks for a while, but the pandemic was tough on retailers. All of Caleres’ stores were closed for weeks, and consumers who were working from home didn’t need to buy as many shoes. The shares did bounce back after Caleres reported a boom in e-commerce sales, but in November the company said it would permanently close 133 Naturalizer stores.
Reinsurance Group -29%
When people started dying of COVID-19, life insurers had to pay out more claims than they had expected. That cost Reinsurance Group of America, which essentially sells insurance to insurance companies, a lot of money. RGA said COVID-related claims totaled $161 million in the second quarter and $140 million in the third quarter.
Enterprise Financial -28%
Like other banks, Clayton-based Enterprise Financial earned some nice fees from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. A bigger loan-loss provision and lower interest rates, though, contributed to a 29% profit decline through the first nine months of 2020. Enterprise’s big strategic move was the purchase of Seacoast Commerce Bank, with offices in San Diego and Las Vegas.
Allied Healthcare Products +300%
Speculators have been pushing up Allied’s stock price since the pandemic began in China, on the assumption that the world would need more of the company’s ventilators. In September, the tiny St. Louis company finally confirmed that it was, indeed, experiencing “previously unseen levels” of demand for its respiratory products.
Huttig Building Products +138%
Olin’s chemical sales plummeted during the second quarter, while its ammunition sales remained strong. The company took a $700 million impairment charge against that segment, but chemical sales bounced back in the second half of 2020 and so did the company's share price.
FutureFuel, a biodiesel manufacturer, more than tripled its profit for the first half of 2020. It also stands to benefit from the Environmental Protection Agency’s stricter enforcement of biofuel blending requirements.