On Wall Street
U.S. stocks soared to record highs after Donald Trump’s surprise victory Nov. 8. The Trump bump defied expectations. Many investors expected a Wall Street crash if the populist businessman pulled off an unlikely win. Instead, stocks soared to new highs. Among the winners have been heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, which could benefit from an expected upturn in infrastructure projects, and defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. Trump’s promises of lower taxes and less regulation come amid the backdrop of an improving economy. In one hopeful sign, the U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent pace in the third quarter of 2016, the federal government said this week. In another spark, U.S. wages grew by 2.8 percent from October 2015 to October 2016, according to the Labor Department. That was the fastest pace of wage growth in years.
Among Palm Beach County companies, private prison operator GEO Group (NYSE: GEO) of Boca Raton is the biggest beneficiary of Trump’s win. The Obama administration had questioned the cost-effectiveness of private prisons and vowed this summer to stop renewing contracts. But Trump has indicated that he likes for-profit jails — and he has vowed to round up millions of illegal immigrants. As a result, GEO Group shares soared from $23.88 to $28.96 the day after the election. The strongest performer of the year is BE Aerospace (Nasdaq: BEAV) of Wellington. It soared more than 40 percent on news of a merger with a larger rival.
A troubled medical firm remains the poorest performer among area stocks. Rennova Health (Nasdaq: RNVA) is off 91 percent for the year. West Palm Beach-based Rennova has been hemorrhaging money. Its sales plunged from $28.9 million in the nine months of 2015 to $5.2 million in the first nine months of 2016, and its net loss widened from $5.9 million in the first nine months of 2015 to $24.4 million in the first nine months of 2016. Its situation is so dire that the company has included “going concern” warnings in its regulatory filings, a bit of accounting jargon that reflects grave concerns about an operation’s ability to survive. Rennova also is trying to ward off a delisting of its shares by the Nasdaq market. And Rennova’s landlord has sued it for missing a rent payment on its headquarters at 400 Australian Ave. Other big losers include Emergent Capital of Boca Raton, which is off 65 percent for the year, and TherapeuticsMD of Boca Raton, down 45 percent.