The Publishers Weekly Stock Index jumped 59.2% in 2015 over 2014, propelled by a huge boost from Amazon. Excluding Amazon, whose stock price increased by more than $365 in the year, the PWSI declined 11.6% compared to the end of 2014. Amazon’s stock price fell in 2014, but last year, investors seemed to believe that Amazon will remain the king of online sales (and cloud computing) for years to come.
Despite Amazon’s huge gain in its stock price, Educational Development Corp. had the largest percentage increase in the year. EDC’s share price rose by over 128% in 2015 as the company posted record sales and earnings in the second half of the year. The company’s strong financial performance was due in part to a big increase in the number of home-based sales reps who have enjoyed significantly higher sales because of greater use of Facebook parties.
Amazon and EDC were two of only four companies on the PWSI that had an increase in their share price in the year. The biggest loser was Pearson, whose share price dropped 41.2%, due a disappointing financial performance while the media company works to realign its businesses. Barnes & Noble’s stock price fell 26.1% last year. In the summer, B&N shareholders received a 0.63 share in Barnes & Noble Education for every share of B&N they own, following the spinoff of B&NE from Barnes & Noble. Though the spinoff did lower the value of B&N’s shares, a more important factor was the weak performance of the company. B&N’s stock price plunged in December, after it released weaker than expected second-quarter results.
Two companies fell off the PWSI in 2015. Courier Corp. was acquired by R.R. Donnelley in June, and later in the year Donnelley announced that it plans to split its existing company into three separate businesses. The move, expected to be completed in 2016, is being done to increase shareholder value. Donnelley’s share price fell 12.4% in 2015. Books-A-Million dropped off the list in December, when its founding family, the Andersons, took the retailer private.
Stock Watch, 2015
|Company||Dec. 31, 2014||Dec. 31, 2015||Change|
|Educational Dev. Corp.||$4.85||$11.07||128.2%|
|Houghton Mifflin Harcourt||20.71||21.78||5.2%|
|Barnes & Noble||23.22||8.71||-26.1%*|
|Publishers Weekly Stock Index||567.35||903.10||59.2%|
|Dow Jones Average||17,823.07||17,425.03||-2.2%|
* Reflects stock split following the spin-off of barnes & Noble Education, for which B&N shareholders received 0.632 shares of B&NE stock for each share of B&N stock THAT they owned. Source: publishers weekly