The Week's Biggest Stock Disappointments

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Investors dodged a bullet -- for now. The week ended with a holiday for the markets, but the government went ahead and announced some pretty lackluster March employment numbers on Friday. Thanks to a small trading window, S&P 500 futures showed that we're probably in line for a drop of more than 1% on Monday. But let's not count our chickens before they've been pastel-painted like Easter eggs -- after all, investors have a three-day weekend to temper their pessimism.

By the close of trading on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) had shed 1.1% for the week, while the broader Russell 3000 dropped 0.8%. Although the broad market's losses may not have been all that bad, there were some individual stocks that seriously took it on the chin this week.

The week's biggest losers
It's not quite earnings season, but some companies are getting ahead of the game to get investors excited about better-than-expected numbers or, as in the case of Parametric Technology (NAS: PMTC) , trying to soften the blow of disappointing results. On Thursday, Parametric let investors know that the fiscal second quarter isn't going to look nearly as good as it had thought. Pointing to a large European contract that didn't close and weakness in North America, the company dropped its earnings-per-share range from $0.32-$0.36 to $0.26-$0.28.


Want some more of the same? OK, you asked for it. Videoconferencing expert Polycom (NAS: PLCM) also got plowed by the market this week after it mirrored Parametric's disappointing move. Polycom blamed the Asia-Pacific and North America regions for the bad news as it gave investors a first-quarter earnings-per-share target of $0.21 to $0.23, well below analysts' expected $0.30.

The 3 Worst-Performing Russell 3000 Companies

Company

Weekly Price Change

Clovis Oncology(24.4%)
Polycom(23.6%)
Parametric Technology(23.2%)

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is March 30-April 5. Includes only companies with market caps of $250 million or more.

Also among the week's worst performers were First Solar (NAS: FSLR) and Groupon (NAS: GRPN) .

The bedraggled First Solar continued to struggle this week as investors continued backing away from the one-time solar darling. On Tuesday, my fellow Fool Alyce Lomax reveled in her decision to cut loose from First Solar, citing GMI Ratings' warning signal on the company that gave it a "very aggressive" accounting risk rating. Meanwhile, the stock got battered toward the back end of the week by a downgrade from JPMorgan Chase, whose Christopher Blansett slashed his target price for the stock from $35 to $20, pointing out that subsidies in for the solar industry "show no signs of stabilization."

And speaking of accounting headaches, there's Groupon. The daily deal hotshot was taken down a few notches by investors following the company's earnings revision and its auditors' view that the company has a "material weakness" in its internal controls. In the wake of Groupon's quake, Fool Amanda Alix mused on the company's trouble with math, while Tim Beyers suggested that there may be an even bigger weakness at Groupon that investors are still overlooking.

By the time the dust settled, First Solar had dimmed by 16% for the week, while Groupon was marked down to the tune of 23%.

That's it for the weekly laggards recap. Looking to turn the tides and find some strong outperformers in the year ahead? The Motley Fool has created a brand new free report titled "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." In it, my fellow Fools reveal a top pick that's poised for explosive growth ahead. Get instant access -- it's free.

At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Polycom and First Solar. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferhas no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter,@KoppTheFool, or onFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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