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Gains for Industry Stocks in 1999
Jim Milliot -- 1/10/00

Led by a combination of large media companies and Internet companies, the Publishers Weekly Stock Index rose 16% in 1999, a healthy increase but less than the 25.2% increase posted by the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Of the 23 companies tracked for the entire year, 10 companies on the PWSI recorded an increase in their stock price, while 13 had a decline; barnesandnoble.com, which went public in May, saw a 21.1% drop in its stock price.

The biggest winner in 1999 was Advanced Marketing Services, whose stock rose by more than 120%. The company has reported strong financial gains in recent months and has expanded its operations through a series of acquisitions. Late last month, AMS also announced a three-for-two stock split that will take effect January 17. In 1999, AMS was one of six companies that had a stock split in the year, including two companies, Amazon.com and John Wiley & Sons, that had two stock splits. Harcourt General's stock price was affected by the spinoff of the Neiman Marcus Group, resulting in Harcourt shareholders receiving .30 shares in the new Neiman Marcus company for every share of Harcourt stock.

Investors showed little faith in the prospects for physical retailers in 1999. Every earthbound chain saw its stock price fall last year, with Hastings Entertainment and Barnes & Noble down 64.7% and 51.5%, respectively, placing them among the biggest losers in the year. The Borders Group and Books-A-Million also had hefty declines, with Borders's stock off 34.8% and BAM down 36.1%.

Amazon.com continued to rack up impressive gains in its stock price in 1999, although this year's 42.3% jump was well below its 1998 explosive 966% stock increase. Another Internet company, Fatbrain.com, had the second largest increase in its stock price last year, as investors seemed to become intrigued with the company's ability to publish materials directly from the Web. Despite Wall Street's fascination with the Internet, three traditional large media companies posted strong stock gains last year, and all three--Tribune Co., Viacom and McGraw-Hill--had stock splits in the year.
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