Charts of the best (Turning Point Brands) and worst (CafePress) Louisville-related stock performers in 2017. | Screenshot from Yahoo Finance

Tobacco, horses, bourbon. Good.

Banking, pizza, gifts. Bad.

That, in a nutshell, tells the story of the stock performance of companies based in — or with significant ties to — Louisville.

The stock market this year posted some big gains, with the Dow Jones advanced more than 25 percent, and the broader S&P 500 rising nearly 20 percent.

Among 16 local companies tracked by Insider Louisville, four performed significantly better than the indices  — and four performed significantly worse.

Shares of Turning Point Brands, which sells tobacco-related items including rolling paper and vaping products, closed last year at $12.90 and rose steadily in the first part of the year, closing on March 10 at $13.22, up 2.4 percent.

Within a week after announcing that 2016 gross profit had risen 4.2 percent, the stock price spiked nearly 17 percent, to $15.45. The price rose fairly steadily until Oct. 17, when it hit $18.75, up 45 percent year-to-date, before falling 17 percent through Nov. 9, when it closed at $15.56. That day, however, the company said it would initiate a cash dividend after reporting that gross profits through the first nine months of the year had jumped nearly 25 percent.

Through Nov. 22, shares rose $1.90, or 12.2 percent, to $17.46. They remained near there until late December, but climbed $3.51, or nearly 20 percent, in the last five days of the year, trading at $21.43 mid-morning of the last trading day, up 75 percent for the year — about 18 percentage points better than any other local stock this year.

This week, the company said that it would pay employees a $1,000 bonus because of the recently passed tax law.

Churchill Downs shares in 2017 trotted up steadily. | Screenshot from Nasdaq.com

Churchill Downs shares rose more than 57 percent in 2017 through mid-morning of the year’s last trading day. Shares had fallen 7.4 percent in January, but then trotted up steadily and closed higher at the end of each of the next 10 months, holding steady in December.

Shares got a nearly 7 percent boost on Nov. 30, the day of annual dividend, which the company had said in October would increase 15 percent.

Shares of Brown-Forman rose to about $56 through mid-May, up 27 percent year-to-date, but in early July, about a month after announcing fourth-quarter earnings, had fallen to $47.05, up just 6 percent year-to-date.

Shares rallied, rising nearly 17 percent, to $54.92, in early November. Shares spiked more than 11 percent in early December, around the time that the distiller announced quarterly earnings and raised its outlook for the year. Near the midpoint of the year’s last trading day, shares hovered around $69, up nearly 56 percent for the year.

Shares of Sypris Solutions ended 2016 at 88 cents and, through late March, fell 4 cents, or 4.5 percent. After the manufacturing and technology company said in late March that it was making progress on its turnaround strategy, shares began to rise sharply through early June, when they sold for $1.73, up almost 100 percent year-to-date.

Shares fell sharply, to $1.51 right before the company announced second-quarter results in August, recovered to $1.73 on Aug. 16 but then fell, fairly steadily, to $1.30 through Oct. 5. Shares rose again twice above $1.60, but declined steadily in December. Though Sypris stock lost 11.6 of its value in December, it rose nearly 56 percent for the year.

Gains by shares of Yum! Brands, Kindred Healthcare, Humana and Porter Bancorp in 2017 were roughly in line with the indices. Shares of two corporate giants and big employers in Louisville, Ford and UPS, rose 9 and 8 percent for the year, but those were less than half of the gains recorded by the S&P 500. Shares of Republic Bancorp were up an anemic 2.7 percent in 2017 halfway through the year’s last trading day.

Three Louisville companies saw stock price declines — big ones — in 2017.

Stock Yards Bancorp shareholders experienced a year with mostly valleys. Shares were above their 2016 close, near $46, only very early in the year but then fell steadily, including a dip after the company announced fourth-quarter results. Shares jumped near $43 in late April after SYBT said first-quarter net profit rose 10 percent, but shares began to fall again right away. The stock hit a low point of $31.88 in early September before beginning a slight recovery. Shares closed on Dec. 28 at 38.50, down 16.2 percent for the year.

Papa did not have a good year, especially during football season. | Screenshot from Nasdaq.com

Papa John’s, too, essentially spent the entire year in negative territory. Shares in 2016 closed near $85, but by early February, shares were down 5 percent, by early March they were down 10 percent, and on March 21, they traded around $73, down 15 percent. Papa’s stock recovered, and by early June traded near $84 again, before plunging below $71 by late July. Shares bounced back near $80 by Aug. 22, but fell steadily through the beginning of football season, closing at $67.80 on Oct. 31.

CEO John Schnatter blamed part of the company’s woes on the decline in National Football League viewers, brought on by a dispute between some team owners and players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial inequality. The pizza stock plunged 15 percent, to $57.50, in early November after the company announced third-quarter earnings. It traded at 56.78 halfway through the year’s last trading day, down nearly 33 percent for the year. The company announced last week that Schnatter, the founder and face of the national pizza chain, would be replaced as CEO at the beginning of next year.

Much like the pizza stock, shares of CafePress rose only in the early part of the year, peaking at $3.49 on Jan. 20, up nearly 19 percent for 2017 at that point. Shares began to fall fairly steadily until July 28, when they plunged 16.4 percent, closing at $1.89, after the company announced a $3.2 million quarterly loss and declining revenue.

CEO Fred Durham has blamed the company’s woes in part on the lack of a presidential election in 2017, the company’s aging website and updates to a Google algorithm. Halfway through the year’s last trading day, shares of CafePress sold for about $1.95, down nearly 34 percent for the year.

Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.