August 31, 2012, 12:02 PM — 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.