The Week's Biggest Stock Laggards
It was a holiday-shortened week, but it didn't lack for fireworks. Greece and the leaders of the eurozone finally reached an agreement that will funnel new bailout funds to the heavily indebted nation and allow it to avoid a messy default -- at least for now. But if that should have given the market a nice shot in the arm, optimism was tempered as the continued drumbeat of weak economic performance throughout the rest of the eurozone continued. The major U.S. indexes finished in the black for the week, but the gains were very moderate.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) spent the week flirting with the psychologically important 13,000 level but couldn't manage to hold it. By week's end, that index had tacked on 0.3%, while the broader Russell 3000 reported a similar 0.3% increase. However, some sectors of the market were unable to keep up with the broad gains.
The 3 Worst-Performing Sectors
Russell 3000 Sector
Weekly Price Change
Month-to-Date Price Change
Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Feb. 17-Feb. 24. Monthly price change is Jan. 31-Feb. 24.
The week started poorly for airline operator US Airways (NYS: LCC) , and then it got worse. US Airways wasn't alone in its drop as other major airlines, including JetBlue, also experienced significant turbulence during the week, but that's probably small comfort to the investors who took it on the chin. The bulk of the declines came as oil prices rallied and stoked fears that higher fuel prices will only make things more difficult for what's been a particularly beaten-down industry.
The good news for electronic-display system manufacturer Daktronics (NAS: DAKT) was that revenue during its fiscal third quarter was robust. Sales grew 23% year over year to $123 million and topped analysts' estimates. However, investors felt robbed as higher expenses led to a flat per-share profit of $0.04. Wall Street had been looking for $0.07 for the quarter. As if that's not bad enough, the company also said that its backlog shrank from a year ago and sales in the coming quarter could decline from the most recent quarter.
The 3 Worst-Performing Russell 3000 Companies
Weekly Price Change
Source: S&P Capital IQ. Weekly price change is Feb. 17-Feb. 24. Includes only companies with market caps of $250 million or more.
Also among the week's worst performers were Deckers Outdoor (NAS: DECK) and First Solar (NAS: FSLR) . It was actually a pretty darn good fourth quarter for Deckers, as profits jumped 40% from a year ago and topped analysts' estimates. However, the stock got ... well, decked by the company's profit outlook as management projected that costs will eat away at the bottom line. For 2012, management sees $5.07 in per-share profit, which is well below analysts' average estimate of $5.82.
Meanwhile, Germany made the outlook for First Solar and other solar-energy stocks decidedly less sunny when the solar-supporting country cut its feed-in tariffs. As my fellow Fool Travis Hoium pointed out, there had been rumors for weeks that this was coming, and the rumors had pretty much nailed the size of the cut. Nonetheless, investors threw a tantrum after the announcement and clobbered solar stocks broadly. First Solar finished the week with a fresh 13% decline.
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 by clicking here -- it's free.
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