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San Diego stocks rise with Wall Street's surge

With New York's stock exchanges surging toward pre-recession levels, the share prices of at least two dozen publicly traded companies in San Diego County are already higher than they were when Wall Street hit its all-time high in October 2007.

The list includes industry stalwarts Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE) and WD-40 (Nasdaq: WDFC); medical device makers Illumina (Nasdaq: ILMN), and ResMed (NYSE: RMD); financial firms Realty Income (NYSE: O), and Encore Capital (Nasdaq: ECPG); biotech labs Life Technologies (Nasdaq: LIFE) and Optimer Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: OPTR); and software developer Accelrys (Nasdaq: ACCL).

The share price at Mitek Systems (Nasdaq: MITK), a mobile technology company, has quadrupled since the downturn on Wall Street began and the values at such firms as the PriceSmart (Nasdaq: PSMT) retail chain, BofI Federal Bank (Nasdaq: BOFI), semiconductor pioneer Cymer (Nasdaq: CYMI) and the ResMed sleep technology firm have more than doubled.

Despite the gains, two out of three local companies are still below their values of Oct. 9, 2007, when the downturn on the S&P 500 began. Some are approaching their prerecession levels, but others -- especially in the pharmaceutical field -- have gone out of business or are now selling their stock for pennies a share.

But in general, "things seem to be picking up," said Tony Cherin, finance professor at San Diego State University. "The rise in the stock market speaks to the possibility of a recovery for the economy as a whole. Not a blisteringly hot recovery, but a recovery."

The Standard & Poor's 500 index, which last week crossed the 1,500 mark for the first time in more than five years, has made up all the ground it lost since the recession began in December 2007 and is within spitting distance of its all-time high of 1,565.15, which it hit two months earlier.

Similarly, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is at its highest point since mid-October 2007, less than 300 points below its all-time Oct. 9 peak of 14,164.53.

"What's encouraging is that the range of industries [with rising stock values] is pretty broad, which is a good harbinger of things to come," Cherin said. "A lot of technological areas are growing, including high-tech, medical technology and drugs. That speaks to broad growth in areas where our society is still pretty strong."

Locally, the stock that has risen the greatest percentage over the past five years is Mitek Systems, which produces a software that allows bank customers to deposit checks and pay bills through their cellphones.

At the peak of the dot-com boom in early 2000, Mitek's stock surged above $11, but the price quickly plummeted together with the rest of the Nasdaq, so that when the S&P hit its peak on Oct. 9, 2007, Mitek shares were selling for only 50 cents. Since then, the stock once again leaped above $11 before falling again.

Even at its current level at $3.30, it's trading at six times its price when the recession began. And it got a boost last month when it signed a deal to provide its technology to customers of U.S. Bank (NYSE: USB).

James De Bello, Mitek's CEO, said he hopes the deal will "re-define what consumers expect from their mobile banking experience."

Another stock that fared well during the recession was Carmel Valley's BofI Federal Bank, which quadrupled from $7 in Oct. 9, 2007 to its current price of $30.41. Unlike its bigger banking rivals, BofI was not swamped with bad loans during the recession.

And because it operates over the Internet rather than through bricks-and-mortar branches, it operates much more efficiently than the big banks, said Matt Koppenheffer, a financial analyst at the Motley Fool.

In an analysis last month, Koppenheffer said BofI is already doing what the bigger banks are now trying to do.

"They're trying to move online, because customers want to do more things over the Internet and at the same time it's much cheaper and more efficient for the banks," he said.

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Qualcomm Inc.

Company Website

5775 Morehouse Dr.
San Diego, CA 92121

Qualcomm Inc. Executive(s):

Irwin Mark Jacobs

  • Founding Chairman, CEO Emeritus

Paul Jacobs

  • Executive Chairman

Tamar Elkeles

  • Vice President

Don Jones

  • Vice President

Don Rosenberg

  • General Counsel

Mark Leslie

  • Vice President, External Affairs

Steven Altman

  • Vice Chairman

Steve Mollenkopf

  • Chief Executive Officer

Derek Aberle

  • President

Navrina Singh

  • Director of Product Management

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