I’ve been looking over our Stockwatch page, and I couldn’t help but notice a couple of things.
Here’s one: Some of the best-performing stocks in the Valley area lately are small companies in the bioscience field.
For example, Atara Biotherapeutics, which develops treatments for patients with cancer as well as autoimmune and viral diseases, has enjoyed a stock surge of 136 percent over the last year and 128 percent since the first of the year. The company is headquartered in San Francisco but has operations in Westlake Village.
Likewise, HemaCare Corp. has seen its stock surge 121 percent over the last year and 93 percent since the first of the year. It’s smaller than Atara but it is growing quickly and will move later this year from Van Nuys to roomier quarters in the San Fernando Valley. HemaCare supplies human blood to companies involved in creating immune therapies.
If you look over the Stockwatch list on page 33 of this issue, you’ll notice several other biotech and medical-related companies whose stock has done exceedingly well of late, along with a couple that haven’t. The point here: Bioscience is a surprisingly big – and prospering – component of the Valley area economy, as pointed out in the previous issue of the Business Journal.
But another thing that’s noticeable by scanning the list: Our two giant companies are not doing quite so well, stockwise. Amgen Inc.’s stock is down almost 1 percent year to date while the Walt Disney Co. is down 6 percent.
Disney is a little concerning. According to its latest earnings report, the company’s parks and resorts segment is carrying the load; that unit’s operating income was up 21 percent. But other segments were down. Media networks was down by 12 percent; studio entertainment by 2 percent, and consumer products and interactive media by 4 percent.
And it appears the reason that the parks segment had such a nice bump was mainly because of higher ticket prices, which can’t be hiked quarter after quarter. In short, Disney doesn’t appear to be getting much organic growth.
• • •
The California governor’s race always seemed destined to be a snoozer. But wait one minute. Could it get interesting?
Well, at least a couple of Republicans seem to think it might. Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich have taken an interest in the race since two polls last month showed that Republican John Cox had slipped into second place in one survey and third place in the other. The way the state’s system works is that the top two vote-getters in the June 5 primary advance to the general election, regardless of party. That means if Cox’s polling solidifies a bit more, a Republican would appear on the statewide ballot this fall.
Of course, your first assumption is that any Republican would get trounced in California, where they spray for Republicans in many parts. But on the other hand – and this is where the Republicans take heart – there are several examples where voters, feeling their government has swung too far in one direction, elect the rival party as a counterweight.
Rove, appearing Fox Business News last week, put it this way: “We could have (in California) what we’ve seen on the East Coast where in deep blue states like Massachusetts or New Jersey or Maryland, voters say, ‘You know, we need to have an adult serving as a restraint on the worst impulses of the Democrats.’” (Rove failed to mention Illinois, another liberal state that elected a Republican governor four years ago.)
But could that really happen in California, which arguably is the bluest of the blue? Gingrich implied in an op-ed that some moderate-to-liberal-leaning Californians feel the state has veered too far left and if enough of them pinch their nose and vote for the Republican – not because they love him but because they want him to be Mr. Veto – then the outcome could be surprising.
The probability of a Republican governor being elected in California? Feels slim to me. But at least the governor’s race may not be the snoozer it appeared destined to be.
Charles Crumpley is editor and publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.