Broadband Installer Clearfield leads Minnesota Outstanding Stocks in 2021


Clearfield Inc., the Brooklyn Park-based fiber optic company that started as a spin-off in 2008, has never had an unprofitable year. He also never had a year like 2021.

Revenue climbed 50% to $ 140 million in Clearfield’s fiscal year ended in September. Spending didn’t increase as much, and its bottom line doubled to just over $ 20 million.

Investors saw not only Clearfield’s performance, but, with broadband moving to single-family homes, more opportunities to come.

Clearfield’s stock price more than tripled from $ 24 to $ 84.42 at Friday’s close, pushing its market value above $ 1 billion and making it the second-best performance of the Big 77 Minnesota state-owned enterprises in 2021.

“We have seen an explosion in demand. We have executed,” Cheri Beranek, co-founder and CEO of the company, said last week. “We’re going to be rolling out as much fiber over the next five years as the last 20… We’re worth as much at $ 80 as we were at a fraction of that.”

In a year when the S&P 500 had a total return of around 27%, the Piper Sandler Minnesota Index was up 23%. That difference is being shaped by some big names in Minnesota that have underperformed the S&P, most notably Best Buy, which was down about 5% in 2021, and Medtronic, whose shares are down more than 10%.

Minnesota’s Best Stock Actor? Brooklyn Park-based Insignia Systems, provider of digital and in-store advertising displays to consumer goods companies. The company announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives on December 6, and speculators have since increased the share. Its share price nearly tripled for the year with all the growth in recent weeks.

The Russell 2000 Index, a larger survey of smaller-cap stocks valued at $ 2 billion or less, jumped 14% in 2021.

Broad market indices like the S&P 500 hit new highs several times in 2021, as stocks rose in value due to high corporate profits, low interest rates and the lingering effects of stimulus measures. government originally aimed at bringing the coronavirus pandemic across the country.

Three in four state-owned companies in Minnesota saw their stock prices rise.

Among the big winners was northern oil and gas, which more than doubled in value in 2021. The performance of the Minnetonka-based company reflects the revival of the oil and gas sector that led the S&P 500 with an increase of 49% of the value.

BBQ Holdings, parent company of Famous Dave’s and Granite City Food and Brewery, increased in value 230% last year, topping $ 15 per share; well below its all-time high of $ 30 in 2015. The Minnetonka company recently acquired six California Tahoe Joe’s restaurants for $ 4.2 million in cash, following the acquisition for $ 13.5 million in June from the Village Inn and Bakers Square restaurants.

Minneapolis-based investment bank Piper Sandler, reflecting mergers and public procurement of public offerings, rose 87% last year. Ameriprise Financial, the financial planning and asset management giant in Minneapolis, saw its shares rise 59%.

Vista Outdoor, the owner of Anoka-based Federal Ammunition, grew 91% last year as it diversifies through acquisitions under the leadership of CEO Chris Metz, who moved the company from Utah to Minnesota in 2019. Vista Outdoor acquired Stone Glacier, a Montana clothing and equipment manufacturer last month. This is the seventh acquisition in 16 months for Vista.

On the other side of the performance graph, Minneapolis-based Regis Corp., the transforming hair salon company, was the worst performing Minnesota stock this year, down more than 81%.

The company is still grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, first with mandatory salon closings in 2020 and a shortage of stylists in 2021 that has affected volume. A transition to a fully franchised model is almost complete. A new direction is coming; Regis CEO Felipe Athayde resigned on December 23 after just over 15 months in office.

Bright Health, led by veterans of the United HealthGroup which raised a Minnesota record of $ 924 million in an IPO in June and then an additional $ 750 million recently, has seen its shares fall by around 80 million. % since the IPO.

A venture capital unit of giant Cigna made the most recent investment. The deal most immediately addresses Bright Health’s liquidity needs, Bank of America analyst Kevin Fischbeck said in December. He estimated that the health insurer would be cash-strapped by the end of 2022.

Bright Health has plans for future growth.

Clearfield too.

With approximately 250 employees, it plans to add 150 more as its list of commercial, utility and municipal customers grows. The company announced in 2021 that it would double the size of its research center, manufacturing and distribution center, and headquarters in Brooklyn Park. And that will contribute to a major expansion of a Mexican subcontractor it relies on.

Needham & Co. analyst Ryan Koontz launched the Clearfield cover in December with a “buy” rating and a 12-month target price of $ 92 per share, above the consensus estimate of $ 90.

“We see ‘CLFD’ as a relatively unknown story, already benefiting from increased investment in rural broadband infrastructure the vast majority of which has yet to be deployed,” Koontz said in a report. “And an undisputed leader in the [smaller] markets where we estimate they have a share of more than 50% with minimal competition. “


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