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Arkansas First Quarter Stocks | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Dillard’s posts best quarter stock return

Car-Mart second in state with 28% rise

DAVID SMITH
ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

Little Rock-based retailer Dillard’s had the best stock return of the largest Arkansas-based public companies in the second quarter, rising 30 percent since March 31. Dillard’s stock price climbed from $40.12 on March 31 to $52.14 Thursday.

“Dillard’s announced impressive earnings results [in the first quarter] and was one of the best performing retail stocks in the country,” said Chris Harkins, senior vice president and managing director of Delta Trust Investments Inc. in Little Rock. “The product mix, along with improved margins, helped Dillard’s surpass analysts’ expectations.”

Dillard’s also had the best performance of the Arkansas stocks for the first half of the year, gaining more than 37 percent since the end of 2010. America’s Car-Mart, the used-car retailer based in Bentonville, rose 28 percent during the second quarter. Car-Mart customers make their payments at the stores where they bought their cars. It has almost 100 dealerships in eight states. Car-Mart’s business model is attractive, Harkins said. “Consumers continue to look for less-expensive cars along with alternative financing,” Harkins said.

Car-Mart beat analysts’ expectations when it announced its fiscal fourth-quarter and end-of-the-year results in May, Harkins said. The firm’s net income increased 26 percent in that quarter, and it sold more than 9,200 vehicles, up 12 percent. Half of the state’s largest stocks advanced for the second quarter, and half declined.

Bank of the Ozarks finished the second quarter up 19 percent. The Little Rockbased bank has acquired four failed Georgia banks in the past seven months — Park Avenue Bank of Valdosta and First Choice Community Bank of Dallas, both on April 29; Oglethorpe Bank of Brunswick, in January; and Chestatee State Bank of Dawsonville, in December. Matt Olney, an analyst with Stephens Inc. in Little Rock, has a buy rating on Bank of the Ozarks and a target price of $57 a share. With the two acquisitions in April, Bank of the Ozarks added about $1.1 billion in assets. The purchases are immediately profitable, Bank of the Ozarks said. Stephens expects Bank of the Ozarks to continue to pursue acquisitions of failed banks in the near term, Olney said in a research report after the recent purchases. Altogether, Bank of the Ozarks has bought seven failed banks.

The other three are Horizon Bank of Bradenton, Fla., in September; Woodlands Bank of Bluffton, S.C., last July; and Unity National Bank of Cartersville, Ga., in March of last year. The seven banks added about $2.4 billion in assets for Bank of the Ozarks, but Olney said he expects the bank to shed about half of those assets. The two best performing stocks of the first quarter were the two worst performing stocks of the second quarter. First Federal Bancshares of Arkansas had the worst quarter, losing 52 percent of its value in the past three months. “Investors watched shares of First Federal more than triple [in the first quarter] only to lose more than half of its stock value in the second quarter,” Harkins said. First Federal rose 81 percent in the first quarter. “The Harrison-based bank is undergoing a buyout, [including a one-for-five reverse stock split], which has not, so far, helped the shares of this bank,” Harkins said.

Deltic Timber rose 19 percent in the first quarter, the second best for the period, but fell almost 20 percent in the second quarter. The El Dorado-based timber and real estate company dropped so far in the second quarter because of a disappointing first-quarter earnings report, Harkins said.

 

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