After falling 6% in 2002, the Publishers Weekly Stock Index roared back in 2003 for a 26.3% increase over the previous year. The gain was one percentage point better than the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which posted a 25.3% increase in 2003. In the year, the stock prices of 15 companies on the PWSI rose, while six fell. One member of the PWSI, Millbrook Press, removed itself from being listed on Nasdaq.

The biggest winner in the year was, whose stock price soared 178.6%, hitting $52.62 at the close of 2003. Through the first nine months of the year, the e-tailer had a solid financial performance, and indications were that the fourth quarter was the strongest period in company history. Three other companies on the PWSI also had gains of better than 100% in the year, albeit from a much smaller base than Amazon. Barnes&'s stock price rose 154.8% in the year, to $2.93, a figure 43 cents above the price that Barnes & Noble is offering to pay for the outstanding shares of the e-tailer it doesn't already own. During the year, B&N bought the 37% stake in B& owned by Bertelsmann for $2.80 a share. The stock price of the nation's third largest bookstore chain, Books-A-Million, also posted a big gain in the year, rising 135.8% as the company reported improving sales in the fourth quarter.

Strong fourth-quarter sales also helped drive up the stock price of B&N, which jumped 81.8% in the year. Borders Group stock price also benefited from a better retail environment: its stock price rose 36.1%. The only retailer whose stock price fell in the year was Hasting Entertainment, whose share price fell 13.8% largely due to softness in its music and rental businesses.

Other noteworthy stock performances included that of Franklin Electronic Publishers, whose stock price hit a 52-week high of $5.08 in the middle of 2003, before settling back to close at $3.93, a 131.2% gain. A better financial performance and optimism about the future helped to drive up Thomas Nelson's stock price by 92.3% in the year. Courier Corp.'s stock price, which rose 31% in 2002, increased 25.9% in 2003, and in November the printer/publisher announced a three-for-two stock split.

The biggest loser in the PWSI was Advanced Marketing Services, whose stock price fell 22.4% in 2003 after declining 19.4% in 2002. Because of investigations into its advertising practices, AMS has still not released results for the second quarter ended September 30, leaving investors in the dark about the company's recent financial performance. Two other companies that had declines in their stock prices in 2002 fell again last year. Scholastic's stock price dipped 5.3% in 2003 after falling 28.6% in 2002; lower-than-expected sales and earnings have been the major factors behind the company's sagging stock price. And the inability of Reader's Digest to sustain a turnaround in its financial results led to a 2.9% decline in its stock price last year following a 34.6% drop in 2002.


Company 12/31/02 12/31/03 % Change 18.89 52.62 178.6%
Barnes & 1.15 2.93 154.8
Books-A-Million 2.74 6.46 135.8
Franklin Electronic Pub. 1.70 3.93 131.2
Thomas Nelson 10.02 19.33 92.3
Barnes & Noble 18.07 32.85 81.8
R.R. Donnelley 21.77 30.15 38.5
Borders Group 16.10 21.92 36.1
Educational Development Corp. 8.15 11.03 35.3
Banta 31.27 40.50 29.5
Courier Corp.¹ 45.84 38.47 25.9
Pearson 9.35 11.21 19.9
McGraw-Hill 60.44 69.92 15.7
John Wiley 24.01 26.03 8.4
Leapfrog 25.15 26.53 5.5
Reader's Digest 15.10 14.66 -2.9
Reed International 35.03 33.70 -3.8
Scholastic 35.95 34.04 -5.3
MediaBay 1.20 1.10 -8.3
Hastings Entertainment 4.91 4.23 -13.8
Advanced Marketing Service 14.70 11.40 -22.4
Millbrook Press 1.75 NA NM
Publishers Weekly
Stock Index² 402.38 493.01 26.3
Dow Jones Average 8,341.63 10,453.92 25.3
¹Reflects 3-for-2 stock split. ²Totals excludes Millbrook in 2002 and 2003 and includes Courier split. Adjusted for split, the PWSI is 508.29