Md. stocks down, but less than Dow

Marriott skids 21%

Lockheed, banks, CompuDyne spurt

State index declines 4.59%

September 18, 2001|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

Most Maryland stocks took a hammering yesterday but a few - notably those of defense-related companies and banks - weathered the first day of trading since terrorist attacks shut down the nation's financial markets.

The Sun-Bloomberg index of top stocks in Maryland dropped 8.84 points, or 4.59 percent. to 183.86.

Among locally based companies, Marriott International Inc. took the biggest punch. The Bethesda-based hotel operator's stock tumbled $8.60 a share, more than 21 percent, to $32.25.

Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences, down $4.78, or 11.5 percent, to $36.81 a share, and Columbia-based Micros Systems Inc., down $4.40, or nearly 17 percent, to $21.67 a share, were also among the hardest hit. Black & Decker Corp., the Towson-based toolmaker, fell $3.32, to $33.64 a share.

On the other side, Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp.'s stock was the best performer on the Maryland index. Its shares rose $5.63, more than 14.5 percent, to $43.95. CompuDyne Corp. also benefited from the rush to security-related companies, as its shares gained more than 57.5 percent, finishing the day up $4.75 at $13.

Others to end on a high note include Columbia-based Meridian Medical Technologies Inc., which closed $2 higher at $14, and Frederick-based F&M Bancorp, up $1.27, to $24.97.

The Maryland stock index did not fall as much as the Dow Jones industrial average, which tumbled 7.13 percent, or 684.8 points, to 8,920.7, and the Nasdaq composite index, which lost 6.83 percent, or 115.82 points, to 1,579.

"I've been watching the Maryland stocks, and as a general statement, they are not off as much as the market, percentage-wise," Robert T. Sweet, chief economist at Allied Investment Advisors in Baltimore, said yesterday. "Some companies are even doing OK. Lockheed Martin is doing OK because of its defense nature."

Hanover-based CompuDyne Corp. reported a jump in the number of inquiries about its products. It makes security software, bulletproof glass and attack-resistant doors for U.S. embassies.

Local banks also fared relatively well yesterday. Collyn Bement Gilbert, a bank analyst at Ferris, Baker Watts Inc. in Baltimore, said banks have become a relative haven for investors.

Yesterday's half-point interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve might have further helped the industry, she said. Also, government spending is expected to accelerate, and that could help banks with government lending contracts.

"When the Dow is down 500 points, you are going to see selling in every sector," she said. "But once the dust has settled and the overzealousness of the panic subsides a bit, a good sector to be in is community bank stocks."

Trouble continued yesterday for makers of telecommunication equipment makers based in Maryland and elsewhere.

"As a whole, tech stocks of telecom equipment makers are not faring well," said Prospero Roda, a telecom equipment analyst for Global Capital Securities in Baltimore.

One economist said few sectors were unscathed yesterday, the first day of trading since terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center shut down the nation's financial center Sept. 11.

"We knew the market was going to be off today," said Mark Vitner, senior economist for First Union Corp. "It's not surprising with this specter of uncertainty. I'm heartened it wasn't worse."

Sun staff writer Kristine Henry contributed to this article.

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