In a boom year for the stock market, which included a 13.4% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Publishers Weekly Stock Index rose 11%. The increase includes only nine of the 10 companies listed on the PWSI. LSC Communications was added to the list in October, replacing R.R. Donnelley, which spun off LSC—as well as two other companies—on Oct. 3. LSC includes all of Donnelley’s former book printing operations.
Of the nine companies on the PWSI, stock prices rose for five in 2016 and dropped for four. The best-performing stock was that of Simon & Schuster parent company CBS: its price rose 35% due in large part to the strong performance of its broadcast and cable television businesses. Despite some troubling moments for Barnes & Noble in 2016, including the firing of CEO Ron Boire, the retailer’s stock price increased 28% as investors hold out hope that the company’s focus on its bricks-and-mortar business will lead to sustained profitability. Scholastic’s stock price jumped 23% in the year, helped in part by blockbuster sales of a number of J.K. Rowling titles.
John Wiley’s decision to lessen its dependence on the traditional higher-education textbook market contributed to a 21% increase in its share price in 2016 and helped it avoid the fate of educational publishers Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, whose stock prices fell last year. HMH’s stock price lost half its value in 2016 as the company’s K–12 business underperformed expectations and its CEO, Linda Zecher, resigned. Pearson is in the middle of a companywide restructuring that will eliminate 4,000 jobs. In the first half of 2016, its profits were down 80%.
The company on the PWSI whose stock draws the most attention from analysts is Amazon, as investors try to balance the company’s still-robust revenue growth with more unpredictable earnings results. The company’s stock price finished 2016 with a 10.9% gain, closing the year at $749.87 per share. Amazon’s stock price had a high during the year of $847.21 per share. Excluding Amazon and LSC, the PWSI fell 11.3% in 2016.
Stock Watch, 2016
|Company||Dec. 31, 2015||Dec. 30, 2016||% Change|
|Barnes & Noble||8.71||11.15||28.0%|
|Educational Dev. Corp.||11.07 9.95||-10.1%|
|Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||21.78||10.85||-50.2%|
|Publishers Weekly Stock Index||872.91||969.22||11.0%**|
|Dow Jones Average||17,425.03||19,762.60||13.4%|
* LSC was spun off from R.R. Donnelley on Oct. 3, 2016 ** Excludes LSC