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Local stock index hits record high during July

| Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Trib 30 index of local stocks jumped to an all-time high of 209.7 in July, propelled by gains from a broad base of companies, many of which posted robust earnings.

It was only the second time that the local stock index had doubled in value. The only other time the Trib 30 exceeded the 200 mark was in May 1998, when it reached 200.6. The Trib 30 was launched in January 1994.

The Trib 30 is an equal-weighted index of stocks of public companies located or dominant in Western Pennsylvania. An investor who divided $100,000 equally among Trib 30 stocks on Dec. 31, 1997, would have owned a portfolio worth $209,000 at the end of trading July 29.

Gaining issues swamped losers by a margin of 27 to 3. Ten stocks -- mostly manufacturers -- vaulted to 52-week highs during the month.

Only one, Alcoa, fell to a new low of $25.55. It was the second-straight month that the aluminum maker's stock fell to a new low point. Alcoa hit a new low of $25.55 early in the month. Alcoa then posted strong quarterly results but noted that expenses remained high.

Rail industry servicer Wabtec, however, hit a new high of $24.57 on news of strong profits. It was the fifth-straight quarter that Wabtec posted higher earnings

Specialty steelmaker Allegheny Technologies hit a new high of $29.50. The company recorded strong earnings during the month.

Steel fabricator L.B. Foster reached a new high of $12.55 -- far above its previous mark. The company posted robust quarterly sales and profits.

Respironics reached a new high of $38.35. The manufacturer of breathing aids recorded record sales and earnings.

Matthews International set its second-straight month of new highs when it reached $41.86. The company makes grave and other commemorative markers.

Medical instrument maker Fisher Scientific pushed to a new high of $67.50 in July, apparently boosted by favorable analyst recommendations.

Calgon Carbon, which makes air and water filtration systems, hit a new high of $10.25, despite posting lower sales and earnings.

American Eagle Outfitters posted its second-straight month of new highs. The retailer of hip clothing logged brisk sales for July, and its stock hit $34.04.

Two local utilities registered new highs. Allegheny Energy reached $29.22 in July, when it posted narrower financial losses and the settlement of a rate dispute.

Equitable Resources reached a new high of $72.59, its second new high in as many months. The gas utility had announced a two-for-one stock split in mid-July.

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