The good, the bad, and the really ugly: How 12 tech stocks are faring this year

Apple, eBay, Amazon and LinkedIn shareholders, enjoy the Labor Day weekend

We're two-thirds of the way through 2012, and it's been a wild ride on Wall Street for many public technology companies. I've checked the performance of a dozen tech stocks from the end of last year (or since their initial public offerings) through Thursday's close. Here's how they stand: Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) -- up 64% The Apple juggernaut has kept rolling this year despite the death of co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs last October. Shares have been pushing toward $700 in recent days, and the expected release of the iPhone 5 next month could fuel more upside. eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) -- up 53.5% The online auction giant has owned that market for years. Only self-inflicted wounds can hurt it at this point. It's committed them -- changes to fee structures in 2008, for example, triggered a one-week seller and buyer strike. But 2012 has been smooth, and shares are at their highest point since 2005. Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) -- up 42.2% The online retail king is a tremendously well-run company. CEO Jeff Bezos is not afraid to invest in infrastructure at the expense of short-term profits. Shareholders should be grateful for his long-term vision. Amazon's stock is trading near all-time highs. LinkedIn (NASDAQ: LNKD) -- up 41.3% Unlike the other social companies listed below, LinkedIn actually has a coherent business plan and is delivering value via its professional social network. Wall Street seems to understand this. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) -- up 16.8% After spending about 18 months stuck in the 20s, shares of the software giant cracked the $30 barrier early this year, but are now struggling to stay above that. Can Windows 8 keep Redmond's stock from backsliding or staying stuck in neutral? Honestly, not likely. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) -- up 5.5% The search giant's shares have posted only modest gains this year, but Google's stock closed 2011 on a roll, and shares currently are near four-year highs. It's rolling out enterprise features for Google+ and hopes to make more inroads into social media now that people are getting sick of Facebook. Yes, they are. Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) -- down 12.7% Speaking of self-inflicted wounds, the DVD and streaming-video provider has never recovered from the poorly received rate hike of a year ago. Indeed, the relatively modest decline in share price this year -- relative to the stocks below, at least -- masks the grim reality that Netflix's stock is down almost 80% from early July 2011, when it crept above $300. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) -- down 23.1% Many years of mismanagement and strategic blunders have led to a revolving door in the corner office. The latest occupant is former eBay CEO and wannabe U.S. senator Meg Whitman, who hasn't inspired confidence in investors (and won't). Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) -- down 49.8% (since May 18 IPO) The new poster child for botched IPOs, Facebook is -- my opinion here -- in the beginning stages of a slow-motion collapse. It can't monetize mobile, people are bored with it, it uses inflated membership numbers, and no one reads the ads. Otherwise, Facebook clearly is the most amazing technology company in the history of all planets that everyone said it was. Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) -- down 53.7% So far, 2012 couldn't have been worse for shareholders of the BlackBerry maker. It's not going to get any better, unless some larger company pays a premium to buy RIM. More likely a continued death spiral. Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) -- down 69.3% Like Facebook, the company from which the maker of time-wasters such as CityVille and FarmVille derives nearly all of its revenue, Zynga also launched a poorly received IPO, back in December. Since then it's been a steady slide south as investors question Zynga's management and business model. Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) -- down 79.7% All of the problems that have helped Groupon shares' relentless march to the pink sheets were readily apparent before last November's IPO -- questionable management, questionable business model, questionable growth potential, questionable repeat business. But the Chicago-based daily-deals site went public anyway, even briefly topping $30 a share on opening day. At 4.19 and falling, soon GRPN will be hard-pressed to top $3.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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