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January 10, 2012

Wisconsin stocks struggle in 2011, but three Madison companies were among the top 10 gainers

With the U.S. economy still struggling through a slow recovery and the European Union fighting for economic stability, 2011 was a turbulent year for the market, and Wisconsin stocks reflected that.

Of the 65 publicly traded companies in Wisconsin, 23 of them, or 34 percent, ended the year with their shares trading higher. That’s the worst showing since 2008, when only seven had gains.

Calculated together, the stocks in Bloomberg’s Wisconsin index fell 11 percent.

"I would have to look at this as a disappointing year," said Todd Parrish, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co., Milwaukee. "If this was a mutual fund that you bought, it would be a pretty bad performance."

In nationwide indices, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 5.5 percent for the year but the Nasdaq composite index dipped 1.8 percent and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended 2011 at about the same point it started, off 0.04 point.

Among Wisconsin stocks, three Madison companies were among the top 10 gainers:

* Exact Sciences Corp. shares ended at $8.12, up from $5.98. The 35.8 percent gain was the second biggest increase. The biotech company is working on a noninvasive test for colorectal cancer.

* First Business Financial Services, parent company of First Business Bank, saw its stock rise to $16.50 from $12.79, up 29 percent.

* Alliant Energy Corp. shares closed the year at $44.11, up from $36.77, a 20 percent rise.

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