Little guys come up short in 1st quarter | Taking Stock

By Tim Raetzloff | Apr 05, 2017

When I work on the quarterly numbers for Washington companies, I find myself rooting for the little companies, the startups and the ones that are just hanging on.

Most are companies that few would recognize. Many I have no idea what they actually do. I have no personal attachment; it is just a case of rooting for the underdog. And most quarters I am disappointed, as I was this quarter.

The big companies did well, and the statewide numbers grew nicely because of the biggest companies, particularly the big two.

Microsoft grew by more than $25 billion, and finished the quarter at almost $509 billion in market capitalization. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the value of one share by the total number of shares.

Amazon.com did even better. Amazon grew by $67 billion, and finished the quarter at a value of $423 billion. That growth in value is the reason Forbes just declared Jeff Bezos as the second wealthiest individual in the world, after only Bill Gates. Forbes doesn’t count Vladimir Putin because they can’t easily measure his net worth.

Between them, Microsoft and Amazon gained $93 billion of the total $116-billion gain for Washington state.

Only three companies and Amazon itself are worth more than what Amazon gained in one quarter. Besides Microsoft, Starbucks at $85 billion and Costco at nearly $74 billion are worth more than Amazon’s first-quarter gains.

Snohomish County grew from $26.7 billion to $30.4 billion during the quarter and is the second most valuable county in the state after King County at $1.277 trillion. Led by Microsoft and Amazon, the value of King County companies increased by $112 billion, considerably more than the value of the rest of the state combined.

The value of the entire state is now $1.324 trillion, up from $1.208 trillion on Dec. 31. Twenty six companies in the state are worth more than $1 billion each. That number is down from 27 at the end of 2016. The number of companies worth more than $10 billion each went up from 10 to 11.

A few small companies had high percentage gains, in one case tripling in value, but those are gains measured in millions and tens of millions of dollars, a mere blip alongside the tens of billions gained by the big two. But, next quarter I will look hopefully, rooting again for the little guys.

 

Tim Raetzloff operates Abarim Business Computers at Harbor Square in Edmonds. What he writes combines his sense of history and his sense of numbers. Neither he nor Abarim have an investment in any of the companies mentioned in this column.

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