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Most of the Delaware Dozen suffer through rough first quarter

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NEW YORK – It will come as no great surprise that Delaware-based financial and chemical companies had a rough first quarter – particularly in March – thanks to the coronavirus unleashing carnage on the U.S. economy and the U.S. stock market entering its first bear market in 11 years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was wracked by the worst first quarter in its history, closing March 31 down 23.2% from the start of the year. The S&P 500 didn’t fare much better as it ended the quarter down 20%, its worst quarterly finish since the fourth quarter of 2008. The second-tier Nasdaq didn’t escape the weeks of selling either, finishing 14.2% below the quarter’s start, its worst quarter in more than a year.

The year started with strong expectations from economists and investors, which were dashed in March as concern over the coronavirus’s spread in the U.S. led governors around the country to shut down businesses and limit travel. The financial impact of those unprecedented measures was only exacerbated by an oil production standoff between Saudi Arabia and Russia that cratered the price of oil. The month ended with historic highs in U.S. unemployment filings and gloomy reports on COVID-19 deaths topping hundreds of thousands well into summer.

Amid all that concern, the Delaware Dozen – the 12 public companies physically headquartered in Delaware — were battered like most of the market. The worst performer was The Bancorp, a financial services company, that lost 55% of its share value in the quarter, suffering the vast majority of its losses in March. Not far behind were loan servicing company Navient and regional bank WSFS, which suffered quarterly share value losses of 40% and 44% respectively.

The other major industry to be hit hard in Delaware was chemical manufacturing, where DuPont and Chemours lost 47% and 46%, respectively.

More immune from the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak were utility providers like Artesian Resources and Chesapeake Utilities, which saw losses of less than 1% and 8%, respectively – the only Delaware publicly traded companies to avoid double-digit quarterly share losses.

By Jacob Owens


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