10 B.C. companies that had very good (or bad) years

Lionsgate is banking on young-adult franchises The Hunger Games and Divergent

B.C.’s biggest companies
1. Telus Corp.
2. Teck Resources Ltd.
3. Jim Pattison Group

Who else made THE TOP 100?
See our ranking >>

Numbers* don’t tell the whole story, nor do headlines. Combined, however, they can tell a fuller tale. Did Lululemon have a good year? (We think so.) Did Teck have a bad one? (Oh, definitely.) Good and bad are oversimplifications, of course, but sometimes a little simplicity goes a long way

*Compared to 2013

GOOD: Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.
Revenue change: 4.2%
Net income: $168 million
Net income change: -29.8%

A couple caveats: Lionsgate calls B.C. home but is headquartered in Santa Monica, and its biggest money-making franchise, The Hunger Games, concludes in November. Still, shares are trading nearly five times their 2011 prices, and Lionsgate has other franchises up its sleeve, like Divergent, which, while no Hunger Games, earned nearly $300 million worldwide from each of its first two films in 2014 and 2015—with sequels to come, of course. Sure, it’s a volatile industry, but Lionsgate has proven that, like Katniss Everdeen, it knows where to aim.

GOOD: Telus Corp.
Revenue change: 5.2%
Net income: $1.43 billion
Net income change: 10.1%

B.C.’s number one company had another gold star year. Indeed, since 2009, Telus has ended every year a little better than the last, with its stock price having more than doubled over the past five years. In the fourth quarter of 2015, Telus added a net gain of 118,000 contract customers, beating eastern competitors Bell and especially Rogers—its primary wireless competitor—which lost 58,000 customers over that same period.

GOOD: Vancouver Airport Authority
Revenue change: 7.3%
Net income: $98 million
Net income change: 3.5%

Travellers don’t often love airports—giant gateways of chaos between home and Hawaii—but last year YVR ranked among B.C.’s most loved brands in a survey by Ipsos Reid and BCBusiness. Maybe it’s the breathtaking native art. Maybe it’s the Canada Line, the quickest fixed-link connection between a major airport and its downtown on the continent. Either way, between 2004 and 2013, revenues at YVR shot up 57 per cent, thanks in part to sales and rents from its retail tenants, which this summer will include a new outlet mall on site. Thank the global traveller for all this spending. Last year, YVR—with plans to become North America’s gateway to Asia—processed almost as many international flyers as San Francisco International.

GOOD: Lululemon Athletica Inc.
Revenue change: 21.1%
Net income: $288 million
Net income change: -48.7

When new CEO Laurent Potdevin took over in January 2014, he had his work cut out for him. Lululemon’s share price had plummeted from $82 in June 2013 to $38 a year later, and the iconic brand was still suffering under the weight of some bad press (sheer pants, anyone?). He must be doing something right. Backed by strong fourth-quarter sales, Lululemon finished 2014 with a healthy increase to revenues. Profit was down—but, as they say, you need to spend money to make money; Lululemon is expanding aggressively abroad, with plans to add 40 new stores throughout Europe and Asia by the end of 2017. As of May, its stock had bounced back to $65.

GOOD: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.
Revenue change: 15.4%
Net income: $47 million
Net income change: -55.3%

While not the most consumer-facing of tech companies, the space-minded firm that built both Canadarms blasted off in 2012 following an $875-million acquisition of California-based satellite maker Space Systems/Loral. Despite lower profits, 2014 was another good year for MDA, which scored numerous large contracts (one of them with a major U.S. government agency to upgrade airport navigation) as its share price continued its ascent.

BAD: TransLink (South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority)
Revenue change: 0.7%
Net income: $27 million
Net income change: -26.9%

Whether or not TransLink is a well-run transit authority (B.C.ers are under the impression that it is not), the fact is that the Lower Mainland’s favourite whipping boy has an unenviable task: not just overseeing SkyTrains and buses but also major roads and bridges. This at a time when the region is expected to grow by one million people (or nearly the population of Calgary) over the next 25 years. The system needs to grow, but growth takes money. TransLink doesn’t have it. Finding efficiencies—like the Compass Card, a new payment system that was supposed to be up and running over two years ago—won’t be enough. The solution? A proposed 0.5 per cent regional sales tax to fund transit expansion.

BAD: Best Buy Canada Ltd.
Revenue change: -11.1%
Net income: NP
Net income change: NA

When Best Buy Canada announced it was shutting down half its Future Shop stores and rebranding the rest as Best Buys, a move that meant the loss of 1,500 jobs, many Canadians could have probably guessed the company had seen brighter days. On the ground, retailers like Walmart and Costco were proving formidable foes. Online, new competitors were growing in popularity every year. For Best Buy Canada, the road ahead was squeezed into a single lane, and a Canadian retail icon born in 1982 was told to hit the brakes. Minnesota-based Best Buy Co. Inc. does not break out numbers for its Canadian subsidiary and did not participate in this year’s survey, but based on interviews and the closure of its Future Shop stores this year (which cost the parent company US$191 million), we conservatively pared our estimate of 2014 revenues by 11.1 per cent.

BAD: Teck Resources Ltd.
Revenue change: -8.3%
Net income: $382 million
Net income change: -62.2%

Following a famously bad year for mining, other companies could have been mentioned here, but Teck is the biggest. Indeed, despite a 62.2 per cent decline in profit last year and a stock price that was halved over the course of 2014, the diversified mining company still earned $8.6 billion in revenues—second only to Telus—and, importantly, stayed in the black. Still, commodity prices remain low, and this spring Teck announced it was slashing its semi-annual dividend rate by two-thirds and temporarily shutting down six Canadian mines.

BAD: BC Ferry Services Inc.
Revenue change: 1.9%
Net income: $13 million
Net income change: -21.1%

Another government-backed transportation body with no shortage of critics. BC Ferries—a former Crown corporation that’s now run (sort of) independently, with the help of a provincial subsidy—has been at odds with the hand that feeds it: the B.C. government. The province has been pressuring BC Ferries to cut costs to offset declining ridership, which a 2014 report from the Union of BC Municipalities blamed on steep fare increases between 2003 and 2013 (fares went up 47 per cent on major routes and 80 per cent on minor ones). Last November, Transportation Minister Todd Stone vetoed BC Ferries’ plan to close one of Nanaimo’s two terminals. Upset, BC Ferries CEO Mike Corrigan said he can’t cut costs without impacting a major route. Stone said the organization should lay off managers and stop free rides for employees.

BAD: Goldcorp Inc.
Revenue change: 2.1%
Net income: -$2.38 billion
Net income change: NA

The good news is Goldcorp didn’t lose as much money as it did the year before. The bad news is that it still lost a lot of it. As gold continues its three-year slump, no one can say if prices have hit bottom. They could certainly go lower. Then again, with a rapidly growing consumer class in countries like China and India, demand for gold in jewellery could increase. That, at least, is a prettier end than gold’s other popular use: as a currency for bearish libertarians betting on civilization’s demise.