Goedeker's, an online appliance retailer, had an eventful year. It bought a larger competitor, changed CEOs and moved its headquarters and distribution center from Ballwin to St. Charles. To finance the acquisition, though, it sold a $200 million stock offering at well below the market price. That deal in May caused shares to tank, and they haven't recovered.
St. Louis' cuddliest retailer, Build-A-Bear Workshop, had a banner year in 2021. Two long-out-of-favor coal companies also rebounded as energy prices soared from their pandemic lows.
The stock market wasn't so kind, however, to some of St. Louis' newest public companies. Goedeker's, which went public in 2020, saw its share prices fall 71% as investors reacted to the way it financed a huge acquisition. Nerdy and Benson Hill, both of which went public in 2021 by merging with blank-check companies, also received a chilly reception from the stock market.
In all, 24 St. Louis area companies saw their stock prices rise during 2021, and eight suffered declines.
Nerdy became St. Louis first home-grown "unicorn," a startup technology company valued at more than $1 billion, when it announced a merger with a blank-check company. After the deal closed in September, however, the value didn't hold up. Investors were disappointed by third-quarter results, when revenue grew by less than expected. At year's end, the online education company's market capitalization was just $380 million.
Benson Hill -32%
Benson Hill, an agricultural technology firm based in Creve Coeur, also achieved unicorn status when it merged with a special-purpose acquisition company in September. By then, though, such SPAC deals had fallen out of favor. Investors chose to withdraw $380 million in cash, and Benson Hill's shares plummeted as soon as they started trading.
FutureFuel, a biofuels and chemicals manufacturer based in Clayton, said its volume fell during the first nine months of 2021. It also was hit by higher natural gas costs, and it took a $10.4 million loss on derivatives contracts.
Esco Technologies -15%
Esco, an industrial products manufacturer based in Ladue, saw declining sales in its aerospace segment. Its shares came under selling pressure in May after the retirement of longtime chief financial officer Gary Muenster, and again in August after third-quarter earnings fell short of analysts' estimates.
Build-A-Bear Workshop +360%
Build-A-Bear's shares more than quadrupled as the company reported record earnings for the first nine months of its fiscal year. CEO Sharon John said consumers were eager to spend their cash on cuddly bears after pandemic restrictions eased, and she said the company benefited from an ongoing digital transformation.
Peabody Energy +324%
Perficient, a technology consulting firm, calls 2021 "the most robust growth year in our history." It acquired firms in Colombia and Uruguay to expand its global footprint, and revenue grew 22% for the first nine months of the year. Per-share profit doubled in the same period.
Olin, which makes chemicals and ammunition, is benefiting from blockbuster demand for its epoxy, which is used in such things as wind turbines and car parts. The company says its strategy is to refrain from adding production capacity while it takes advantage of high prices. The third quarter was Olin's most profitable three-month period in at least 20 years.
Arch Resources +107%
Arch Resources took "coal" out of its name in 2020, but it's still dependent on the black mineral. Much of Arch's revenue comes from coal used in steelmaking, where demand has been strong. Prices for that product, called coking coal, are up 84% in the past year. After losing money in 2020, Arch posted a $111 million profit in the first nine months of 2021.