Led by big dollar gains at Amazon and Walt Disney Co., the Publishers Weekly Stock Index rose 16.7% in the first six months of 2012, almost triple the increase posted by the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Although some analysts worry about Amazon’s operating margins, the company’s stock price still rose by more than $55 per share in the first half of 2012, an increase of just under 32%. The biggest increase on a percentage basis was Books-A-Million, whose stock price increased 32.6%, due in large part to the offer by the Anderson family to acquire the shares they don’t already own for $3.05 per share. The bid has drawn a number of lawsuits charging that the offer by the Andersons, who already control more than 50% of BAM’s shares, is undervalued. Barnes & Noble’s stock price has been the most volatile on the PWSI, but helped by the investment of Microsoft in the NewCo partnership, its stock price finished up 13.7% at the midpoint of 2012. McGraw-Hill Cos.’ stock price, which received a nice bump last year after the announcement that it was spinning off McGraw-Hill Education, was essentially flat in the first six months of 2012 as investors wait for the split to be completed later this year.

The worst performing stock in the first half of the year was Educational Development Corp., which drew a lot of attention in the winter with its announcement that it wouldn’t be selling its titles through Amazon any more. In its fiscal year ended February 29, the company posted a rise in earnings on a small sales decline.

Stock Watch, First Six Months, 2012

Company Dec. 30, 2011 June 30, 2011 % Change
Books-A-Million 2.43 3.22 32.6%
Amazon 173.10 228.35 31.9
Disney 37.50 48.50 29.3
Hastings Ent. 1.60 1.98 23.7
CBS 27.14 32.78 20.8
Barnes & Noble 14.48 16.46 13.7
Courier Corp. 11.75 13.25 12.8
John Wiley 44.40 48.99 10.3
Pearson 18.87 19.85 5.2
McGraw-Hill 44.97 45.00 0.07
Reed Elsevier 32.26 32.03 -0.7
Scholastic 29.97 28.14 -6.5
R.R. Donnelley 14.43 11.77 -18.4
Educational Dev. Corp. 5.01 4.04 -19.4
PWSI 458.01 534.36 16.7
Dow Jones Average 12,217.56 12,880.09 5.4