Henrico-based company's stock value up 1700%

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - If you had the guts...you'd now have the bucks. That's how investors are looking at Henrico-based Genworth Financial. But executives have a different take on the company's dramatic improvement.

About a year ago, we stood outside the company's West Broad Street headquarters and reported big layoffs. Then, the turnaround began. If you invested $1,000 in Genworth Financial at the time, it would've been worth more than $18,000 last week.

When Fortune 500 companies like Genworth Financial make the news, it's often for the wrong reasons. Take January of 2009, for example, when the Henrico-based insurance giant laid off approximately 1,000 employees.

"Then, it was a little bit tense. We knew we had to focus on the things we did well," said Chief Financial Officer Pat Kelleher.

Genworth was caught up big-time in the global financial meltdown caused by the housing crisis. A company that was once worth more than $30 a share (February 2007), plummeted to just 91 cents (March 2009).

"By the time our stock hit the low in March, we had already figured out a lot about how we were gonna go  forward," Kelleher said, adding that top executives began to focus more on how they take on risk. It didn't hurt when the government later invested billions in mortgages.

"I think Genworth is sort of like a super-concentrated picture of all the things that have improved over the last year," said Michael Jones of Riverfront Investment Group.

The result was stunning, even to those in the business of big numbers. $1,000 worth of Genworth stock last year became worth $18,000 as of last week. An increase of 1700%. The upward swing follows that of the overall economy. To top executives, it signals that there is still more work to do.

"We do pause from time to time as we achieve certain goals to do some of the high-fiving. It kinda does make it feel good. But we are very much aware that achieving success going forward is really dependent on how well we perform from here," Kelleher said.

Even though there's been this big turnaround, the company's current stock value is only about half of what it was before the market collapsed. But the company CFO is confident that it can one day return to those high levels.

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