Involvement in a scandal to rig a benchmark interest rate, lingering fallout from its near collapse four years ago, protests against a CEO bonus and a serious computer system glitch did not stop Royal Bank of Scotland from being the region's top performing stock in 2012.
Shares of RBS rose 69.4 percent last year, edging out Lanxess, the German specialty chemicals company whose North American headquarters are in Findlay.
RBS is the parent of Citizens Bank, the region's second largest bank. Its U.S. operations, Citizens Financial Group, are one of RBS' prime performing assets. The parent company has announced it intends to sell a stake in the U.S. affiliate in order to shore up its finances closer to home.
While foreign-based companies top the list of the region's best performing stocks, the ranks of the top 10 are equally split between companies that have headquarters in the region and firms based elsewhere that have a substantial presence here.
PPG Industries was the top locally based performer, finishing third based on its stock rising 62.1 percent in 2012. Its shares got a shot in the arm in December when the company announced it planned to acquire the North American decorative coatings business of AkzoNobel, the Dutch maker of Glidden and other brands. The acquisition will give PPG a bigger share of the U.S. paint business, a sector analysts expect to benefit from the recovery in the housing market.
The other four companies headquartered in the region that made the top 10 were Johnstown banker AmeriServ Financial (up 54.4 percent); L.B. Foster, which makes products for the rail, construction and energy markets (up 53.6 percent); teen apparel retailer American Eagle Outfitters and mutual fund operator Federated Investors, both up 43.4 percent.
More than half of the stocks in the Top 50 rose 10 percent or more in 2012, a year that saw the S&P 500 advance 13.4 percent. Shares of nearly two dozen of the companies rose 24 percent or more.
Nine companies made the Top 50 despite seeing their stock prices fall during the year. Those include three small regional banks: ESB Financial of Ellwood City; Northwest Bancorp of Warren; and WVS Financial of West View.
Shares of the 2011 champion, Downtown-based GNC Holdings, rose another 15 percent last year. But the performance was only good enough for a 27th-place finish. The vitamin retailer's stock surged 80.9 percent in 2011 after going public in April of that year.
For-profit educator Education Management, which ranked third in 2011, tumbled out of the Top 50 in 2012. The company was plagued by lawsuits over its sales tactics and declining enrollment that led to a $1.52 billion loss for the fiscal year ended June 30. Its shares slumped 84.4 percent last year after jumping 54.6 percent in 2011.
West Chester, Ohio-based AK Steel, which has major operations in Butler, shared the same fate. Ranked fourth in 2011 when its shares rose 49.5 percent, AK Steel stock slid 44.3 percent in 2012.
-- Len Boselovic: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1941 First Published May 3, 2013 4:00 AM