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9 Worst-Performing Stocks of the Last Year


The Dow just marked a 17-month high today, adding 48 points to mark its seventh-straight gain. All told, the major indexes are up nearly 50% in the last 12 months. But the rising tide has left behind a few boats. Here are nine duds that have stumbled – or in some cases, fell flat on their faces – in the last year of the bull market. Returns are from March 18, 2009 to today (March 17, 2010):

9. Dun & Bradstreet (DNB)

Professional services stock Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) is down -1.3% in the last year.  Dun & Bradstreet provides commercial information and insight on businesses worldwide, including risk management. You think that would be a good industry to be in right now, but DNB has suffered. Most recently, the stock saw revenue slip in the fourth-quarter, driving profits down 16% year-over-year.

8. Apollo Group (APOL)

As the operator of the University of Phoenix, Apollo Group (APOL) would seem like a good recession-proof play. After all, job retraining seems like its in high demand. But this stock is down -9.9% in the last 12 months due to increased bad debt (that’s students defaulting on their loans) and some questionable accounting that resulted in an SEC inquiry last year.

7. Quanta Services (PWR)

Construction and engineering stock Quanta Services (PWR) is down -9.8% in the last year. PWR specializes in network solutions to customers in the electric power industry. At the end of February, Quanta reported a drop in its fourth-quarter profit as higher costs more than offset a revenue increase resulting from an acquisition.

6. People’s United Financial (PBCT)

People’s United Financial (PBCT), a stock that specializes in commercial banking, retail and small business banking, is down -10.2% since March 18, 2009. The company has seen its revenue and earnings flat for the last four quarters — not a good sign when the rest of the market has returned to growth mode. Excuses about frozen lending markets fail to fly at a bank that has 300 branches, and investors are tired of waiting for this company to ramp up business once more.

5. Monsanto (MON)

Agricultural giant Monsanto (MON) is down -13.1% in the last 12 months. Part of this is due to what many think was a gross overvaluation of this stock during the commodity boom of 2008, when shares were cruising around $140 — nearly double where they are now. Compared to that flop, a -13% return in the last year actually doesn’t feel quite so bad.

4. H&R Block (HRB)

Tax preparation company H&R Block (HRB) is also down -13.1% in the past year. The economic downturn really took a toll on this company because unemployment “simplified” tax returns for millions of Americans. Coupled with less spending that could be itemized on returns and a dead housing market with no interest to write off, many filers just didn’t need much help. Tie that with people saving a buck by doing their own taxes and you get a rough go of things for H&R block.

3. Gamestop (GME)

Video game retailer Gamestop (GME) has seen shares slump -20.4% in the last year. Video game sales have been on the decline for some time — most recently, with U.S. retail sales of video games posting a 15% drop in February year over year. Shares of this stock live and die on gamers buying the latest titles, and the past 12 months GME has done more dying than Covenant forces in a game of Halo.

2. Dean Foods (DF)

With a return of -23% in the last 12 months, Dean Foods (DF) has been giving investors a stomachache. The good news is that shares have surged almost 10% since the beginning of March on talks of a takeover by Paris-based Groupe Danone (DANOY) … but the fact that shares are still that much in the red despite this uptick can’t be sitting well with shareholders.

1. MetroPCS Communications (PCS)

Investors will have a hard time finding a worse performing stock in the last 12 months than MetroPCS (PCS). The prepaid wireless provider has seen lower sales due to weak consumer spending and flat-out domination from high-tech offerings like the Apple (AAPL) iPhone and the Google (GOOG) powered Android. The damage in this telecom stock? A whopping 59.1% loss from March 18, 2009, to this writing.

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