Shares of Fuisz Technologies Ltd. plunged to their lowest level ever Thursday after the company's chief executive quit and the company said it will report a second-quarter loss.

The resignation of Kenneth W. McVey drove Fuisz stock to $3.75 from $7.12 1/2 before it recovered a few cents Friday as the stock market staged a broad comeback.

Analysts quickly cut their ratings on the stock of Fuisz, which specializes in such drug-packaging technologies as pills that dissolve instantly on the tongue.

Solomon Smith Barney's Michael Tong criticized the company for "lack of definition of strategic direction." He said he believes McVey, a former top executive of Elan, the British drug company, quit because of differences with founder Richard Fuisz, who will become interim CEO.

Besides developing unique drug formulations for big drug companies, Fuisz also sells some products under its own name and has been dabbling in the online drugstore business, where it faces competition from several stronger players.

In another down week in the market, The Washington Post-Bloomberg regional stock index dropped to 169.23 from 171.99, a loss of 1.6 percent. The index tracks the stocks of more than 200 publicly traded companies based in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

The index was driven down by losses of most of the region's Internet stocks, which managed to recoup some of the damage during Friday's market rally. The week's most significant other big loser was Newport News Shipbuilding Co., the stock of which fell after the Pentagon opposed its plans to merge with another shipyard.

Despite the weak market, several regional stocks closed Friday at their highest levels this year.

Shares of Biospherics Inc. climbed more than $1 after the Beltsville company's annual shareholders meeting. Biospherics published several studies of research on its sexiest business -- a low-calorie sweetener -- and also announced new work for its cash cow -- operating phone reservation and information systems for government agencies.

Also hitting new highs for the year were Transaction Network Services, Information Resource Engineering and Medimmune Inc.