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Published: Saturday, 10/11/2008

Area firms get swept up in credit-crunch crisis

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

As stock markets around the world have plummeted to depths not even considered possible by analysts a month ago, public firms headquartered in the Toledo area have shared in the financial carnage.

In the last two weeks, shares of axle maker Dana Holding Corp., Toledo's largest publicly traded firm, spun steadily downward by more than 40 percent. Dana's fall was similar to the shattering of the share price felt by local glassmaker Libbey Inc.,

which also has dropped more than 40 percent in a fortnight.

During the same period, Monroe's La-Z-Boy Corp. has fallen more than a third, while Findlay's Cooper Tire and Rubber Corp. has lost more than a quarter of its financial tread.

Investors have rapped shares in packaging maker Owens-Illinois Inc. by more than 25 percent in the last two weeks, it hasn't been much fun for Cedar Fair LP unit-holders to watch as its price plummeted by more than a third.

Health Care REIT Inc. slipped as well, falling about 20 percent in value during

two weeks of trading, as have shares in The Andersons Inc., whose grain-intensive portfolio might have protected its share price in calmer economic weather. Even

shares of insulation maker Owens Corning aren't in the pink. Despite allowing its famed mascot, the Pink Panther, to speak for the first time ever, its shares fell

more than 20 percent.

Though Toledo-area shares have been bludgeoned recently, the losses are more staggering when a firm's share prices are compared to their high points.

Cedar Fair, for example, traded at nearly $35 per limited partner unit as recently as March, 2004, and traded at one point yesterday at $12.50 per unit, before finishing at $13.89. Similarly, Dana traded at $12.70 per share when it emerged from bankruptcy protection at the end of January, and yesterday passed below $3 per share before recovering to $3.35.

But the stock price losses of local companies are pretty indicative of those experienced on the broader market, which is in uncharted territory, said Adam Cufr, a wealth manager at Barefoot Wealth Management in Perrysburg. 'Just about everything is being sold at a panic rate right now,' he said. 'People are just stepping back and resetting their priorities, rechecking their beliefs, and adjusting to their new realities.'

Firms with good financial fundamentals that are swept along in the credit-crunch current are likely to recover once faith is restored, Mr. Cufr said. 'Long term, as the credit mess gets cleaned up, there's so much money on the sideline, that at some point when people see that we've hit the bottom, there will be a tremendous upside. But nobody knows how long that's going to take; it might be 10 days or 10 years.'

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: lvellequette@theblade.com or 419-724-6091.



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