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Egghead, Itron Lead Local Stocks But Overall, Regional Stocks Lagged National Indexes

Tue., July 4, 1995

First the good news: The stocks of two companies with significant Spokane operations ranked in the top 10 of 100 tracked by a regional index.

The bad news? Two others were in the bottom 10.

Right at the top of the Dain Bosworth Northwest 100 was Egghead Inc., the software marketer that opened a customer-service center at Liberty Lake earlier this year.

Friday’s closing price of $13.38 represented a 57 percent gain since March 31 as well as the best price within the last year. The stock, helped by a turnaround in earnings, is up 14 percent since the first of the year.

At No. 10 was home-grown Itron Inc., the maker of automatic metering equipment. The company’s stock rose 33 percent to $31.25 during the quarter.

The increase since Dec. 31 is 54 percent. Itron went public in October 1993 at $13.50.

Hecla Mining Co. and Pegasus Gold Corp. were among the biggest losers during the quarter. Mining stocks, which many investors view as a hedge against inflation, waned as the economy slowed down and inflation fears subsided.

Spokane-based Pegasus fell 18 percent to $10.13, near its low for the last year and also 11 percent off its December 31 closing price.

Hecla, headquartered in Coeur d’Alene, slipped 10 percent to close at $10.38. The company, which operates the Lucky Friday mine at Mullan, Idaho, remains slightly ahead of its year-opening price.

Other area mining companies also fared poorly. Gold Reserve Corp. of Spokane and Boise-based Sunshine Mining Co. fell 7 percent for the quarter. The stock of Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp. edged back 5 percent.

Two other Spokane-based companies finished the quarter with double-digit increases.

Key Tronic Corp., the keyboard maker, was up 14 percent to $16. The stock has climbed 52 percent since December 31.

And Sterling Financial Corp. finished the quarter at $13.25, a 10 percent gain. The thrift’s stock is up 29 percent this year.

Washington Water Power Co. generated a 7 percent gain for the quarter and 16 percent for the half, finishing at $16. The company expects to merge with Reno-based Sierra Pacific Resources later this year.

Among other companies that are big employers in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area, Boeing Co. finished up 16 percent at $62.63; Safeco Corp. up 5 percent at $57.44; Louisiana-Pacific Corp. down 5 percent at $26.25; and Eagle Hardware down 7 percent $6.88.

Overall, Northwest stocks were up 6.3 percent during the quarter, compared with 9.6 percent for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and 8.9 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Dain Bosworth analyst R. Jay Tejera said investors will have to be more selective in the third quarter, although he added he does not expect a significant correction during the period.

“Stock prices are not high,” he said.

Tejera said a clear sign of trouble would be a failure by the economy to rebuild momentum and achieve a 2 percent rate of growth.

Second-quarter growth was probably close to zero, he said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphics: Northwest stocks’ performance

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