Today's 3 Worst Stocks


Ever jumped for joy at the newest figures from the Department of Commerce? Be honest. You haven't? Well, Wall Street sure has, and it sure did today. While not exactly reflected in the S&P 500 Index's 1.7 point, or 0.1% gain on the day, considering some of the bearish catalysts, eking out small gains doesn't seem so bad. During the early stages of what could be another debt limit crisis getting under way, December's 0.5% retail sales increase was enough of a positive surprise to prevent widespread selling. Unfortunately, the following three S&P 500 stocks didn't get the memo.

Apple , which for a second straight day numbered among the worst performers in the index, slipped a further 3.2% after a 3.5% decline Monday. It's part of a larger, disturbing short-term trend in Apple's stock price: The iPhone maker is down nearly 25% in just the last three months. The steep losses, aggravated yesterday by rumors that it ordered far fewer iPhone 5 components than expected, don't hugely dint the stock's longer-term performance, though. Patient shareholders are up nearly 290% in the past five years.

Stock in service provider Windstream , which also offers cloud computing, similarly nosedived today, falling 2.8%. Frankly, I don't blame investors; the finances look terrible. The company has six times more long-term debt than equity -- no wonder it's been expeditiously refinancing all the debt it can recently. And the company's 10% dividend would be a lot more attractive if it weren't eating up all the yearly profits four times over each annum.

Online streaming content provider Netflix rounds out the last of today's laggards, having fallen 1.7%. Today's news that it had acquired rights from Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting and Warner Brothers Television Group, though ostensibly a good move, scared away investors. The terms of the multiyear deal weren't disclosed, and Netflix's immediate decline could reflect investors' dissatisfaction with a business strategy heavily dependent on content acquisition.

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John Divine owns shares of Apple. You can follow him on Twitter @divinebizkid and on Motley Fool CAPS @TMFDivine.The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Netflix. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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