Maine stocks were among those that took at a hit in one of Wall Street’s worst weeks.

Unum Group, in particular, took a hard fall, along with the rest of the financial/insurance sector. It took a precipitous drop on Thursday, and its stock price closed the week with more than a quarter less value than it had on Monday morning.

Wright Express Corp., Fairchild Semiconductor, General Dynamics and Idexx Corp. also saw their stock prices plunge.

Brad McCurtain, president of Maine Securities, noted that most of the publicly traded companies in the state – excluding Unum, Fairchild and Idexx – are small-cap firms.

Those are companies with a market capitalization of $500 million or less. They’ve fared well, said McCurtain, until now.

“There’s not a group anywhere that isn’t in a solid downtrend right now,” he said.

Unum stock started the week at $22.78 and finished it at $16.47, a 27.7 percent drop. The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based company is a big employer in Maine, with roughly 3,200 workers.

“We believe that the weakness in our stock in recent days is less about our business than it is about the lack of confidence investors have in the stock market and in financial institutions in particular,” said Jim Sabourin, vice president of corporate communications at Unum. “The vast majority of our competitors have suffered similar fates in the past few weeks.”

There’s a lot of “guilt by association,” said Jim MacLeod, senior manager in Bangor Savings Bank’s wealth management division in Portland.

The perception is that “if AIG has a problem or if Hartford has a problem, therefore MetLife must have a problem, Unum must have a problem,” said MacLeod. “When in reality, that’s not the case.”

Sabourin said Unum CEO Thomas R. Watjen told employees recently that the stock free-fall doesn’t materially affect the company’s business plans.

“We have a solid business plan,” said Sabourin. “And we’re confident in our ability to execute against it.”

Current market conditions are a reflection of emotion, rather than problems with company fundamentals, MacLeod said.

“That’s why it’s very difficult to make an informed decision in these markets. There’s not a lot of good fundamental information right now,” said MacLeod.

A number of Maine companies, or firms with a significant presence in the state, shared in the pain:

Idexx, a veterinary biotech based in Westbrook, with about 1,500 people in Maine, was trading at $60.59 on Sept. 19. It closed Friday at $40.53

Fairchild Semiconductor, a computer chip maker with about 1,025 people at a production facility and headquarters in South Portland, has had an up-and-down year, with its latest peak on Aug. 15 at $13.95. It closed Friday at $6.37.

South Portland-based Wright Express, a fleet-management company with about 600 employees in Maine, was trading at $40.82 Nov. 14 of last year, and hit $29.85 a few weeks ago on Sept. 30, after an up-and-down year. It closed at $21.20 Friday.

General Dynamics Corp., which employs 6,000 workers statewide through its Bath Iron Works shipyard and its General Dynamics Armament Systems plant in Saco, was trading at a high of $94.01 on Aug. 28. It closed Friday at $57.39.


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