Today's 3 Worst Stocks


The S&P 500 Index continued its impressive run on Friday, rising 8.5 points, or about 0.6%, to close at 1,517. Boosting stocks was news that the trade deficit fell in December on strong oil exports. The index is up 6.4% in 2013. That's all well and good, but even on good days, the index is bound to have some stragglers. Today these three companies held back the S&P.

Energy drink company Monster Beverage Corporation leads off today's list of laggards, losing 2.7%. The fall brings year-to-date losses to 11.4% for Monster; the company is in a bad spot politically, which is one reason its stock hasn't been popular. In October, the FDA indicated that Monster drinks were allegedly related to five deaths last year, although no conclusion has been drawn regarding liability as of yet. Congressional pressure to limit the amounts of caffeine in these drinks has mounted in response to health risks.

Cosmetic giant Avon Products is our second loser of the day, falling 2.5%. The company is set to report quarterly earnings Tuesday, Feb. 12, so jittery investors may be nervous that Avon won't make them look so good when the moment of truth comes. The stock also suffered on news that ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez decided to devalue the currency by 32%. For companies like Avon, with meaningful portions of its business in Venezuela, it means a lower U.S. Dollar bottom line will emerge from that country.

Networking devices company Juniper Networks rounds out Friday's underperformers, backtracking 2.4%, after investors worried that a quarterly report from competitor Alcatel-Lucent may be indicative of industry-wide issues. Alcatel reported a loss of $0.80 per share, as revenues fell. Juniper may be in a better competitive position than Alcatel, as sales grew in the most recent quarter -- but not by much. The 2% uptick reported in January shows that growth is hard to come by.

Are you at ease ... or nervous? It's been a great five-year run for investors, with the Dow and S&P at, or near, all-time highs. Yet, fears abound. When will the next downturn hit? Will political gridlock lead to portfolio-killing inflation? To learn how to protect your portfolio, click here for free guidance from the Motley Fool Pro Academy!

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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 recommends Monster Beverage. The Motley Fool owns shares of Monster Beverage. 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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