What a ride 2020 has been. The year started and ended on a bull run, but it was the events in between that shaped 2020: a global pandemic, spiking unemployment, monetary and fiscal stimulus from the Federal Reserve and Congress, an election year and the development of COVID-19 vaccines. All-time highs were seen for all three major indexes: the Nasdaq, Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500. So where does that leave Iowa’s publicly traded companies? Most of them took a tumble in 2020.

Six of Iowa’s 18 public companies ended the year with gains in their stock prices, led by Ames-based Renewable Energy Group Inc. with a 162.78% gain for the year. The second-highest was Ames-based Workiva Inc. with a 117.88% gain. Four Iowa companies had double-digit percentage gains.

Twelve of Iowa’s public companies ended the year with losses, led by United Fire Group Inc. with a 42.60% share price loss for the year. In 2019, United Fire Group also ended the year down, by 21.14%. Meredith Corp. had the second-largest share price loss for the year, down 40.87%. In 2019, Meredith ended the year down 37.49%. Nine companies posted double-digit percentage losses, and three had single-digit losses.

The leading stock in 2019 turned out to be the second-smallest gain in share price in 2020. After recording a nearly 118.84% price gain in 2019, Forest City-based recreational vehicle manufacturer Winnebago Industries was up 13.14% in 2020. 

Greater Des Moines’ largest home-based public company, Principal Financial Group Inc., ended the year with its share price down 5.39 points, a 9.80% decrease for the year.

The Iowa Index, an unweighted average of 18 Iowa-based public companies, was heavily influenced by a few strong performers, gaining 18.73% for the year. Of note, the Iowa Index decreased by two public companies in 2020. NewLink Genetics Corp. was removed after a merger with Texas-based Lumos Pharma Inc. in March. KemPharm was delisted from the Nasdaq and began trading on the OTC Markets Venture Market (OTCQB) in May. By comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 7.25% in 2020 while the Nasdaq was up 43.64%. 

Compared with a decade ago, the Iowa Index was up 92.30% at year-end 2020, underperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average percentage gain of 164.36% for the 10 years, and well short of the Nasdaq’s 385.82% gain. Casey’s General Stores Inc. turned in the best 10-year performance among the 18 Iowa-based companies, more than tripling its price with a 320.18% share price gain.


 

The IOWA index

18.73%  2020 ONE-YEAR PERCENTAGE CHANGE 

Note: The Iowa Index is an unweighted average of 18 Iowa-based publicly traded companies.



By the Numbers

162.78%
Renewable Energy Group Inc.
The biggest one-year percentage gain of any Iowa-based company.

-42.60%
United Fire Group Inc.
The biggest one-year percentage loss of any Iowa-based company.

662.33%
Renewable Energy Group Inc.
The largest five-year percentage gain of any Iowa-based company.

-55.61%
Meredith Corp.
The largest five-year percentage loss of any Iowa-based company.

320.18%
Casey's General Stores Inc.
The largest 10-year percentage gain of any Iowa-based company.

-75.43%
Art's Way Manufacturing Co.
The largest 10-year percentage loss of any Iowa-based company.



Iowa-based Publicly Traded Companies: How they’re ranked

Companies are listed according to their stock prices’ one-year percentage change from Dec. 31, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020. All stock prices listed are as of close of market on Dec. 31, 2020.