Today's 3 Worst Stocks

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Wall Street shrugged off technical oddities that caused a three-hour trading halt in all Nasdaq Composite issues, as the three major U.S. indexes all gained ground. The past few weeks saw stocks slip on growing assurance that the Federal Reserve will begin curbing its asset-buying program next month. Now that the Fed's tapering is taken as a given, that large cloud of uncertainty has been lifted; the S&P 500 Index added 14 points, or 0.9%, to end at 1,656 Thursday. 

Hewlett-Packard was one of the top losers in the S&P, cratering 12.5% today as shareholders sold off after the company's most recent quarterly report disappointed investors yesterday. The double-digit decline is the largest single-day stumble in more than two years for the PC mainstay. In fact, a major catalyst behind today's decline is the very fact that HP is a "PC mainstay"; the company is trying to rebrand itself around its enterprise solutions segment, but that was one of the company's most glaring weaknesses in the most recent quarter. 

Staples was again one of the index's worst performers, losing 1.4%. Of course, Staples investors will take that any day over yesterday's abysmal 15% slump on the heels of -- you guessed it -- a disappointing quarterly earnings report. Research outfit Jefferies Group reduced its price target on the office supplier's shares today, as Wall Street lowers its expectations for the future. 

Business equipment company Pitney Bowes shed 1.2% Thursday, driving the annual dividend yield on shares to 4.3%. Pitney Bowes offers physical and digital communications solutions, and with physical mail on the decline, the company will have to either expand operations or continue to squeeze more out of each dollar of revenue. Despite declining sales in each of the last four years, Pitney has grown profits by double-digit rates in each of the past two years.

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Fool contributor John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned.  You can follow him on Twitter, @divinebizkid , and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFDivine . The Motley Fool owns shares of Staples. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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