A Year Of Ups And Downs
A company-by-company rundown of the biggest bets, busts, and breakthroughs of 2004.
By Michael V. Copeland

(Business 2.0) – [UP] AMD. Bucked industry trends with huge sales of its new 64-bit chip, putting Intel to shame.

[UP] Apple. iPod Mini boosted its market share in hard-drive-based MP3 players to 90 percent.

[DOWN] AT&T. Hung up on its residential voice service. Now pushing VOIP.

[UP] Burger King. Ironic TV ads—with office drones fighting over who ordered the most creative burger—and Subservient Chicken website spurred a 13 percent sales spike.

[UP] Chrysler. With props from Snoop Dogg, scored a much-needed hit with the revamped 300.

[UP] Cingular. Won auction for AT&T Wireless to blow past Verizon as the nation's biggest cellular carrier.

[DOWN] Disney. Amid board turmoil and falling out with Pixar, CEO Michael Eisner vows to leave ... someday.

[UP] DreamWorks. After Shrek 2 and Shark Tale, investors snapped up shares of its animation studio's IPO.

[DOWN] Gateway. New CEO Wayne Inouye closed its retail stores and abandoned consumer electronics. Last line of defense: ultracheap PCs.

[UP] Genentech. Avastin, its new colon-cancer drug, took off; sales should top $500 million this year.

[UP] Google. Highly anticipated IPO was a hit with investors. But analysts are still debating whether the Dutch auction model actually worked.

[UP] IBM. Revenue from services edged past products for the first time.

[DOWN] Krispy Kreme. Overexpansion sent its stock into a tailspin, plunging 71 percent this year.

[UP] McDonald's. CEO Charlie Bell stepped in for the late Jim Cantalupo and has kept the turnaround on track.

[DOWN] Merck. Took a nosedive when Vioxx, its $2.5 billion arthritis drug, turned out to increase users' risk of stroke and heart attack. The stock fell 32 percent.

[UP] Motorola. Sales boomed again after years of atrophy. New CEO Ed Zander can take a bow.

[UP] Mozilla. Its Firefox browser is catching on: 7 million downloads so far.

[DOWN] Netflix. Blockbuster has already copied its DVDs-through-the-mail model. Amazon may be next.

[UP] Newmarket Films. Tiny independent distributor took on The Passion of the Christ after every major studio turned it down. To date the film has brought in $600 million.

[DOWN] Oldsmobile. The 107-year-old line of roadboats was your father's Oldsmobile, so GM shut it down.

[UP] PalmOne. After years of floundering, the PDA pioneer bounced back with the Treo 600. The only thing cooler is the new 650.

[DOWN] PeopleSoft. Spent most of the year fending off Oracle's hostile offer. Now CEO Craig Conway is out and a deal seems imminent.

[UP] RightNow Technologies. Best-performing venture-backed IPO of the year, up more than 100 percent.

[DOWN] SCO. Filed suits against IBM, Novell, and half a dozen others, claiming a piece of the Linux code. No verdicts yet, but Wall Street has already delivered its opinion: The stock is down 80 percent.

[DOWN] 321 Studios. Maker of DVD-copying software was forced to shut down. Score one for Hollywood's pirate hunters.

[UP] Toyota. Rising gas prices turned its Prius into a hot seller with six-month waiting lists.

[DOWN] US Airways. Made round trip to bankruptcy. Other airlines expected to follow.

[DOWN] Wet Seal. Retailer pushed Britney-wear as teenyboppers were going preppy, leading to a share price drop of more than 80 percent.