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Public companies vanish while profits rise

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Friday, August 01, 2008

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Going, going... gone


Oregon public companies keep disappearing but revenues and profits still climb.


Publicly traded companies are becoming an endangered species in Oregon. Some have opted to move headquarters. Others have been acquired by out-of-state companies. A few have gone private or simply out of business. Worse, the IPO tap remains dry. Business Week reports that second quarter 2008 was the first since 1978 with not a single VC-backed initial public offering nationwide. Our list now numbers 57 companies, down five from last year. And among these just 65% were profitable, compared to 73% last year.

In spite of the dwindling number of companies, total revenue for this year’s list jumped 6.5% to $49.0 billion, propelled by manufacturers such as Precision Castparts, Schnitzer Steel and Greenbrier Industries, which grew revenue 29%, 39% and 28%, respectively. Overall net income scored even better, growing 21.6% to $3.7 billion. Total market value at the end of 2007 also increased — 17.2% to $74.3 billion.

The largest company, Nike, earned another personal best, growing revenue 14% and net income a whopping 26% to $1.9 billion. Its year-end market value ballooned 27% to $31.8 billion, followed by Precision Castparts at $10.7 billion (a 79% increase) and FLIR Systems, which more than doubled value to $4.3 billion.

In total, seven companies from last year said goodbye. The 159-year-old timber company Pope & Talbot, in midst of bankruptcy, did not file an annual report for 2007, while medical-device-maker microHelix went completely out of business. Iconic high-tech manufacturer Tektronix, Corillian Corp. and PW Eagle all were acquired by out-of-state companies. Northwest Pipe Co. shifted headquarters across the Columbia River to Vancouver, and Axial Vector Motor Co. propelled much of its ownership and offices all the way to Dubai, trailed by shareholder allegations of fraud and an SEC investigation.

Two small public companies joined the list this year: Znomics (No. 52), a biotech company developing pharmaceuticals that moved headquarters to Portland from British Columbia in late 2007; and Torrent Energy Corp. (No. 56), an exploratory energy company that moved from Lynnwood, Wash., also to Portland, in late 2006.         

BRANDON SAWYER

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