#4: Peabody Energy
Peabody Energy (BTU) has been around since 1883 and bills itself as the world’s largest private coal company. That’s a great thing to tout when the coal biz is going well … but an ugly reality when things sour.
Coal has been taking a beating for a while, both because of the manufacturing slowdown in China and general softness in energy demand in the West. But when you throw in recent moves toward less-polluting energy sources — from solar and wind even to the comparatively cleaner fossil fuel natural gas — it has been the death knell for the industry at large and Peabody in specific.
Peabody has managed to slash costs to get back to breakeven (and possibly above), at least if projections for fiscal 2013 hold, but it might not mean an escape from the depths of the S&P 500’s worst stocks. President Obama just dropped the boom on the coal industry with costly new regulations, and there could be more pain to come.