Today's 3 Worst Stocks


Continuing a steady climb that began nearly four years ago in March 2009, the S&P 500 Index rose 0.9 points, or 0.06%, to close at 1,520 Wednesday. Though today's gains were modest, the index has more than doubled since the lows of four years ago. That said, the mere inclusion of a company's stock in the S&P 500 doesn't guarantee good returns, and that fact was underlined by the miserable performance of today's three biggest laggards.

Shares of Cliffs Natural Resources posted an epic day today, and not in a good way. The aptly named Cliffs shares dropped like rocks, falling 20% in a textbook example of why companies should not cut their dividend and post quarterly losses. It wasn't just the dramatically slashed payout, which was reduced by 76%, but the fact that the company recently raised and defended its dividend that caused investors to sell in a frenzy.

In another case of quarterly earnings coming back to bite shareholders, Hospira's report drove the stock down 6.6%, even after beating top- and bottom-line estimates. The health-care stock plummeted, however, because its guidance for the 2013 fiscal year was below what Wall Street expected. As the current value of a stock hinges on the expectations for future success, issuing disappointing projections about the future of your company is a bad place to begin.

Frontier Communications , which is set to report earnings next Thursday, fell 3.2%. Though there wasn't a solid reason behinds today's stumble, the company hasn't exactly outperformed in the last few years. While the S&P was busy rallying to within 3% of all-time highs, Frontier's stock has dropped more than 40% in the last three years alone.

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