The bullish stampede of growth hoped for by plastics-related firms in 1994 did not materialize, as some publicly held plastics companies in several key markets saw drops in stock values. Some publicly held companies did see the strong growth of 1993 continue in 1994, but others, in six of nine categories where at least 50 percent of company revenues came from plastics, saw their stock values drop. Some markets, such as compounding, medical and pack-aging, did see stock gains, while firms in such crucial categories as transportation, consumer products and construction saw significant losses in stock value.
Analysts are more cautious for 1995, predicting only modest levels of growth, and tempering their views with warnings that interest rates, and resin supplies and prices, could delay or diminish growth. In the area of consumer durable goods - such big-ticket items as appliances, transportation, construction and housewares - double-digit percentage gains may be in the past.
``There should be continuous, more-modest gains,'' said Jerry Herman, vice president and senior analyst for Kemper Securities Group Inc. of Chicago.
He said appliances and furniture will show single-digit percentage growth.
The position of housing and construction-related companies eroded in 1994, according to Herman, although prices escalated in the industry. He said mortgage rates remained at levels near where they were 14 years ago, and stimulated some buyers to invest in housing.
In the packaging sector, where plastic-intensive public companies saw a 5.03 percent overall gain in stock value in 1994, Lloyd Widom, vice president and senior packaging analyst for Prudential Securities Inc. of New York, said resin prices have been an inhibiting factor.
``The price of resin was, and will continue to be, a concern for packaging makers,'' he said. ``So far, most have been able to pass through the cost increases to their customers, and I think the key customers understand the reasons. As the recipes for the various products get more complicated, the prices go up.''
On the whole, Widom said, he expects to see continued gains by packaging companies in 1995.
``PET will continue to be the star performer in plastic,'' he said, ``and packaging will continue to be led by the food applications, especially the single-serve applications.''
The Plastics News 1994 stock report for key, publicly held plastics-related firms showed a 3.34 percent gain in stock value overall for four major compounders; a 5.54 percent loss in value for seven companies in the construction sector; 12 consumer products firms' stock drop 4.85 percent overall; and 11 diversified firms' stock prices fall 3.58 percent overall. In the industrial sector, 13 companies' stocks were off 0.19 percent; seven in the medical sector saw an 11.66 percent gain overall; 19 packaging firms posted an overall gain of 5.03 percent; and 10 transportation firms' stock fell 24.33 percent overall.
The largest loss in value was in recycling, where two publicly held firms, Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies Inc. of Springdale, Ark., and Pure Tech International Inc. of Somerset, N.J., saw stock prices drop 53.51 percent overall in 1994.