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The Yonder 40, a stock index that reflects the rural economy, continues to do considerably better than the other major measures of corporate well being. The Yonder 40 is down 2 percent since July 1 of last year. The Dow Industrials are off by nearly 7 percent.

The Yonder 40 has gained 7.7 percent since the beginning of January. The Dow is off 2.5%; the Standard and Poor 500 index is down 2.4 percent and the NASDAQ is off by 2.5 percent.

Within the Yonder 40, however, there are wild variations. In the last week, for example, Cabela's, the outdoor outfitter, dropped 11 percent and Skywest followed the rest of the airline industry down, dropping 15 percent in the last week. Retail outlets fell, too, as Family Dollar, Stage Stores and Cato all dropped in the last week.

Last week was a generally bad week for stocks across the board. The Yonder 40 continues to be bouyed by energy companies, transportation firms and companies that serve agriculture.

(See the next page for how the full Yonder 40 fared last week.)

Here is the week's news for individual members of the Yonder 40:

“¢ Transportation stocks have risen of late. Burlington Northern, a Yonder 40 member, has risen 22 percent in the last three months. Gains for transportation stocks "are being driven by the same forces pushing oil higher," according to the Wall Street Journal. "Increased global demand for energy, metals and food have pushed up the prices of goods shipped by these companies, while the weakness in the dollar is helping U.S. manufacturers overseas."

“¢ Hormel Foods, the maker of Spam, reported that sales rose 6 percent in the quarter that ended the end of April. The company said sales were led by deli meats. (More people are eating cold cuts for dinner, perhaps??)

“¢ Why are rural retail stocks doing poorly? Stage Stores reported that net income dropped 75 percent due to a "challenging" economic and retail environment. Same store sales decreased 5.4 percent from last year.

“¢ The news business continues losing revenue. Newspaper owner Lee Enterprises revised its second quarter books to show lower value for the company. Earnings were less than half of that from the same quarter last year. Circulation revenue dropped almost 2 percent. Below are the results for the full Yonder 40 for the week ending May 23, 2008:

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A message from the Rural Assembly

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Yonder 40TickerPrice May 23Price Change 5/16 to 5/23Percent Change 5/16 to 5/23
Alico Inc.ALCO38.68 $0.03 0.1%
Andersons Inc.ANDE41.25$0.721.8%
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp.BNI106.14 $2.42 2.2%
Berkshire HathawayBRKB4,130.00$53.101.3%
Bassett FurnitureBSET12.17$0.201.7%
Peabody Energy Corp.BTU73.2 $5.63 7.1%
Cabela's Inc.CAB13.34 $1.66 11.1%
ConAgra Foods Inc.CAG23.38 $0.38 1.6%
Cato Corp. Cl ACTR15.26 $0.33 2.1%
Citizens CommunicationsCZN11.02$0.000.0%
Deere & Co.DE80.42 $3.11 3.7%
Dean Foods Co.DF22.22 $1.08 4.6%
DIRECTV GroupDTV27.39 $0.20 0.7%
Family Dollar Stores Inc.FDO19.5 $2.15 9.9%
Fleetwood Enterprises Inc.FLE3.8 $0.06 1.6%
FairPoint CommunicationsFRP8.57 $0.53 5.8%
Gaylord Entertainment Co.GET28.72 $1.14 3.8%
Hormel FoodsHRL38.5 $3.27 7.8%
International Speedway Corp.ISCA43.42 $0.16 0.4%
Lee EnterprisesLEE6.69 $0.42 5.9%
Mohawk Industries Inc.MHK73.06 $4.55 5.9%
Monsanto Co.MON121.45 $3.66 2.9%
Mine Safety Appliances Co.MSA39.92 $0.96 2.3%
Southwest BancorpOKSB16.75 $0.58 3.3%
Plum Creek Timber REITPCL42.47 $1.11 2.5%
Penn Virginia Corp.PVA53.74 $2.77 4.9%
Ralcorp HoldingsRAH58.23 $1.06 1.8%
Regions Financial Corp.RF18.66 $1.51 7.5%
Sturm Ruger & Co.RGR7.66$0.020.3%
Smithfield FoodsSFD30.22$0.291.0%
Skywest Inc.SKYW14.87 $2.62 15.0%
Southern Co.SO36 $0.74 2.0%
Stage Stores Inc.SSI12.68 $1.16 8.4%
Tractor Supply Co.TSCO32.47 $1.43 4.2%
Tyson FoodsTSN17.82 $0.44 2.4%
UST Inc.UST54.06$0.340.6%
Waddell & Reed Financial Inc.WDR32.86 $1.60 4.6%
Walter IndustriesWLT88.78 $2.85 3.1%
Wal Mart StoresWMT55.75 $1.29 2.3%
Cimarex EnergyXEC69.21 $1.04 1.5%