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There were dramatic differences for local stocks in 2021


2021 was a difficult year for many, but it’s been a year of gains for most U.S. stock indices. The Dow Jones Industrials and the NASDAQ are up more than 20% on the year, while the broader S&P 500 is up even more — close to 30%. As for widely-held local stocks, results were mixed.

Most of the major U.S. stock market indices trended higher as the year went on — not on a straight line, but zeroing in at or near their yearly highs by year’s end.

The local story was a bit more complicated, especially for companies whose fortunes are tied to the pandemic or travel.

The best example: the year’s volatility of Hawaiian Holdings, parent company of Hawaiian Airlines.

From its 52-week low in January to its yearly high in June, there was a swing of more than 86% in the stock price.

By year’s end, shares were much closer to those lows, but still showing a gain of about 9%.

Hawaiian Electric Co. had a more stable year — rising early, then stumbling in September and October before coming back a bit in December and closing the year with a gain of roughly 20%.

Alexander and Baldwin had a fairly steady climb starting in early February, peaking in early November but ending the year close to its 52-week high — up nearly 50% for the year.

Its former corporate cousin Matson saw even stronger gains, but with a bumpier path, sliding in the spring and summer before rising to its highest peak in early to mid-November. It ended the year with a gain of more than 50%.

Some smaller companies had rougher years — Maui Land and Pineapple lost about 9%, while the Hawaiʻi Island microalgae producer Cyanotech closed the year with a slight decline.

One smaller company that bucked that trend is Barnwell Industries — a Hawaiʻi-based business that deals in land investment along with oil and gas exploration and contract drilling. For 2021 it was a winning combination — share prices more than doubled by the end of the year.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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