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WEX and IDEXX bring home the bacon for their investors

BY Peter Van Allen

6/11/2018

When WEX Inc. announced that it had signed a fleet-card deal with Shell, Wall Street apparently liked what it heard.

The day of the announcement, shares of South Portland-based WEX surged by 4.75%, to $186.59.

WEX first announced plans to work with Shell in 2014, and clearly the recent deal was an indication that Shell wanted to strengthen the business relationship.

WEX, which is the second-largest publicly traded company in Maine (behind IDEXX Laboratories), has seen its stock surge in the past year, from 52-week low of $100.17 per share to $187.28. Its market capitalization is close to $8 billion.

If you'd invested $10,000 in WEX shares in December 2008, not long after the Lehman Brothers crash, when the stock market was at its low ebb in recent years, it would be worth $146,705 today. By comparison, $10,000 invested in IDEXX would be worth $139,651 now. (Since we're not using real money here, $10,000 invested in Amazon in December 2008 would now be worth $323,789, but that's what you might call a best-case scenario on the stock market.)

Maine benefits from the growth of both IDEXX and WEX, with several hundred employees in Maine. WEX is building a new headquarters on Portland's East End, while IDEXX is investing $62 million to expand its campus in Westbrook.

Opus Ventures and the Skowhegan Savings Charitable Foundation announced the formation of the Western Maine Venture Fund.

Qualified under the Finance Authority of Maine's seed capital tax credit program, the fund will focus on supporting early-stage companies in Maine with growth capital funding opportunities in western and central Maine. Opus Ventures, a Portland based private capital and investment firm, will manage the program.

Opus Ventures is developing a $10 million pool of capital for general investments primarily in Maine and $10 million in targeted funds, like the Western Maine Venture Fund. Investors in both programs may be eligible for benefits from FAME's Maine seed capital tax credit program.