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MSC Industrial top gainer in Long Island stocks’ strong year

Erik Gershwind heads MSC Industrial Direct Co. in

Erik Gershwind heads MSC Industrial Direct Co. in Melville, which was the top-performing Long Island stock in 2016, with a gain of 64.2 percent, without dividends. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

The Newsday Long Island Bloomberg Index of 30 publicly traded companies in Nassau and Suffolk counties had a strong performance in 2016, gaining 15.9 percent.

Most of those gains came during a year-end rally. Since Election Day, Nov. 8, the Long Island index gained about 13 percent.

The regional index outpaced the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard & Poor’s 500, but trailed the Russell 2000, an index of small stocks.

In 2016, the Dow gained 13.4 percent, the S&P 500 9.5 percent and the Russell 2000 19.5 percent. All these return calculations, including the local index, don’t factor in dividends.

In 2015, the Long Island index shed 2.8 percent, in line with the major indexes.

The top-performing Long Island stock in 2016 was Melville-based industrial products distributor MSC Industrial Direct Co., which gained 64.2 percent without dividends. (Dividends are an important component of companies returns to shareholders; with dividends, MSC’s return was 68.2 percent.)

“Over the long run, U.S. manufacturing is a pretty good place to be,” Erik Gershwind, MSC’s president and CEO, told Newsday in September.

The Long Island stock with the worst performance was Research Frontiers Inc. The Woodbury maker of “smart glass” that blocks or passes light with the turn of a dial saw its stock tumble 65.1 percent.

Joseph Harary, president and chief executive, said that though “we’re not happy with our stock price being down ... we’re smart enough to know that we should be focusing on our business and the stock price will follow.”

Harary said the 51-year-old company expects an uptick in business in 2017 as another automaker joins Mercedes-Benz in licensing the company’s technology for sunroofs.

Mitchell Goldberg, president of ClientFirst Strategy Inc. in Melville, likened the postelection rally to an NBA game. “Everything came in the last quarter,” he said.

Because small-capitalization stocks tend to have more exaggerated moves on the upside and downside, the postelection rally had a greater impact on Long Island, which has many small-cap stocks. A small-cap stock is generally defined as one with a stock market capitalization less than $2 billion.

Strength in financial stocks also buoyed Long Island, he said.

The local returns reflect “that we’re all about services” on Long Island, Goldberg said.

Health care stocks account for more than a quarter of the index, followed by information technology at 19.9 percent and financial services at 19.4 percent.

Top performing companies in the Newsday Long Island Bloomberg Index in 2016

MSC Industrial Direct Co.: 64.2%

Suffolk Bancorp: 51%

Getty Realty Corp.: 48.6%

1-800-Flowers.com Inc.: 47%

Napco Security Technologies Inc.: 44.1%

Note: Returns don’t include dividends.

Source: Bloomberg

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