Investors jumped to buy shares of companies that sell biometric technology, video surveillance and other security services after Thursday's bombings in London.
Among the top performers were surveillance companies such as Magal Security Systems Ltd., an Israeli company whose customers include governments and military agencies. It surged 13 percent to close at $8.90 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
IPIX Corp., which recently won a $2.4 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a high-resolution aerial surveillance camera, leaped 20 percent to $3.28.American Science and Engineering Inc., a provider of X-ray detection, gained 11 percent to $48.04. Verint Systems Inc., a video security company, rose 13 percent to $36.05.
Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst who follows homeland security stocks for Morgan, Keegan & Co. Inc., said some of the companies that saw big gains Thursday had been undervalued. But he added that it remains to be seen whether the increases will be sustained. Much will depend, he said, on whether governments around the world decide in the next few months to boost spending on security for mass transit.
Dozens were killed and more than 700 people were wounded in the four London explosions, which rocked the subway and tore open a double-decker bus during the morning rush hour. It was the worst attack on the city since World War II.
When markets reopened after the terrorist attacks in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, biometrics and other access-control technologies were among the hottest segments. A similar mindset prevailed Thursday, as biometrics providers such as Viisage Technology Inc., Identix Inc. and Cogent Inc. rose in value.
Viisage shares moved up 8.4 percent to close at $5.19 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Identix rose 6 percent to $5.47 on the exchange, while Cogent gained 2.5 percent to $29.08.
LaserCard Corp., which produces high-tech identification cards, was up 5.9 percent to $6.50 on the Nasdaq.
Meanwhile, large defense contractors saw more moderate support, including Boeing Co., up 1.4 percent to close at $65.18 on the New York Stock Exchange. Raytheon Co. was off 0.3 percent at $39.27.
The Spade Defense Index, which tracks 59 companies in the sector, rose 0.5 percent to 1,705.43, slightly more than the percentage rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Spade index has made huge gains over its benchmark value of 1,000 on Dec. 30, 2002.
Copyright 2005, by The Associated Press.