Wabtec stock rose almost 38% in 2021

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Erie Times-News (PA)

Both investment income and net income rose through the first nine months of 2021 at the Erie Indemnity Co., the management company for the Erie-based Erie Insurance Exchange.

What did not improve, however, was the price of the company’s stock, which had climbed from about $100 a share at the beginning of 2017 to $240.76 at the end of 2020.

After all that price growth, the company’s stock took a step backward in 2021, closing on Dec. 31 at $192.66, a decrease of nearly 20% compared to the closing price for 2020.

The past 12 months were a period of mixed results for some stocks of local interest.

The results for those individual companies were set against a backdrop of a successful year for the stock market at large.

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The Dow Jones industrial average, the often-cited index of 30 blue-chip stocks, rose 18.9% in 2021 to end the year at 36,338.30.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500, a much broader representation of the stock market, rocketed up 27% to close the year at 4,766.18.

As good as the stock market’s performance was in 2021, a couple of stocks of local interest included in this report did even better.

Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc., which has bank offices in both Erie and Crawford counties, put together a great year for company stockholders. The value of the stock rose 34.5% during the year to close the year at $200.52.

Meanwhile, National Fuel Gas Co., the parent company of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp., the area’s leading natural gas utility, saw its stock price make an even bigger jump, climbing 55.4% during 2021 to end the year at $63.94.

General Electric, which is thought to be the most widely held stock in the region, thanks in large part to the thousands of former GE Transportation employees who made it part of their retirement plans, has been in the news lately as leaders of the once-mighty conglomerate have announced plans to break it into pieces.

The year-end trading price of $94.47 might come as a surprise for someone who hasn’t been paying attention. The stock, after all, was trading early last summer for $12 to $13.

What changed is that on July 30 the company announced a one-for-eight reverse split, which multiplied the value of each share by eight while reducing the number of shares. Overnight, a stock that had been trading for $12.95 was trading for more than $100.

The improvement at GE wasn’t all sleight-of-hand. Adjusted for the split, the stock ended the year up 9.3%, ending the year at $94.47.

Pittsburgh-based Wabtec, which purchased GE Transportation in February of 2019, saw its stock price soar in 2021. The company’s stock was up 37.9% in 2021 to end the year at $80.64.

Owners of Northwest Bancshares Inc., the parent company of Warren-based Northwest Bank, saw the value of their shares climb 11% during the year to close at $14.15.

Finally, a falling stock price doesn’t mean that Erie Indemnity or its shareholders had a bad year.

Net income for the third quarter of the year was $90.2 million, compared to $89.2 million in the third quarter of 2020.

Through the first nine months of the year, net income was $242.8 million, up from $230.5 million during the first nine months of the previous year.

The company’s board of directors also approved a 7.2% hike in its dividend, which now stands at $1.11 per share.

Contact Jim Martin at 814-870-1668 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNMartin.