After beginning the year with 10 companies, the Publishers Weekly Stock Index was down to only eight members at the close of 2019. Barnes & Noble, whose stock price was selling at $7.09 per share on Dec. 31, 2018, was taken private when it was acquired by Elliott Advisors in August for $6.50 per share. The second company that departed the PWSI in 2019 was CBS, parent company of Simon & Schuster. CBS merged in early December with Viacom to form ViacomCBS, and while S&S is part of the new conglomerate, its financial performance will have little impact on ViacomCBS’s stock price.
The remaining eight companies listed on the PWSI saw their combined stock price decline 9% in the year. LSC Communications had the steepest decline in its share price, which plunged 95%. The printing giant began 2019 with a $7 per share stock price and a deal to be acquired by Quad Graphics. When the Justice Department sued to block the merger on antitrust grounds, the two companies called off the planned deal and with it, LSC’s share price steadily fell. With its stock price trading for under $1 per share, LSC received notification from the New York Stock Exchange on November 20 that the company no longer complied with the NYSE continued-listing criteria. LSC has six months from the time of notification to maintain an average closing share price of at least $1 over a period of 30 consecutive trading days.
Only three companies saw their stock price rise in the year, led by HarperCollins’s parent company, News Corp., whose stock price increased 22% in 2019.