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December 31, 2019

Waters Corp. stock led Central Mass. public companies in 2019

Photo | TMS Aerial Solutions The Milford headquarters of Waters Corp.

For investors in Central Massachusetts public companies, there was no better stock to own in 2019 than in Milford's Waters Corp.

The lab equipment manufacturer posted a 27% jump in stock price for the year, jumping by 50 points, the most of any public company in Central Massachusetts. Waters' stock was trading at around $233 at the end of trading Tuesday afternoon.

Waters reported nearly $1.7 billion in sales through the first three quarters of the year, with $392 million in profits.

Other major public companies in the region also had a successful year on the stock market, which itself had a booming year. The New York Stock Exchange rose 22.2% for the year, rising nearly 5,200 points to hit 28,538 through Tuesday. Central Massachusetts public companies rose by an average of 20.3%.

Gaining the most points after Waters was IPG Photonics of Oxford, whose stock rose 30.2 points, or 26.3%, despite some turbulence over the year.

In October, IPG said it would lay off 300 people from its global workforce as part of $30 million in cuts. The manufacturer has cited harm from the U.S. trade war with China, with its stock ranging from a high of $181 a share in April to $116 a share in August. It rebounded to end around $145 at the close of the year.

[Related: Stock buybacks jump 93% at largest Central Mass. public companies following tax change]

Worcester's Hanover Insurance Group gained 21.3 points over the year, a jump of 18.5%. Among other major gainers was Framingham retailer TJX Cos., whose stock rose 16.5 points, or 37.1%.

Smaller firms were more likely to struggle.

ReWalk Robotics, a Marlborough-based maker of exoskeleton suit systems, saw its stock fall 55.2% to $2.16 a share. Psychemedics Corp., an Acton drug test manufacturer, had a 43.3% drop in its stock price to end at $9.15 a share.

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