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The Year in Stocks: A Pleasant Surprise

If one stock could sum up the year consider Health Net Inc. The Woodland Hills health insurer started 2014 on an optimistic note with the company seemingly poised to benefit from national health reform. By mid-March, the stock had gained nearly 18 percent. But with the announcement of an extra $113 million in administrative costs associated with reform and sharply lower first-quarter earnings, the stock nearly gave back all its gains by early April. From that point on, though, it became apparent to investors that the company’s full embrace of health reform would pay off and the stock surged, closing Dec. 10 with more than 70 percent gain year-to-date. For many other Valley companies, Health Net’s topsy turvy experience typified the market in 2014. Many experts expected a pullback this year, but they were wrong – ultimately to the benefit of investors and public company managers. “I think the market surprised 90 percent of the professional money managers,” said Lon Morton, chief executive of Morton Capital Management in Calabasas. “The performance has taken a lot of smart people by surprise and continues to have a life of its own. Investors have done extremely well.”

Joel Russel
Joel Russel
Joel Russell joined the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2006 as a reporter. He transferred to sister publication San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2012 as managing editor. Since he assumed the position of editor in 2015, the Business Journal has been recognized four times as the best small-circulation tabloid business publication in the country by the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Previously, he worked as senior editor at Hispanic Business magazine and editor of Business Mexico.

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