Tuesday's Worst Stocks in the World

Bad days. We all have them; some of us deserve them. Here are five stocks whose naughty ways drew investors' scorn on Tuesday:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (5 max)

% Change

52-Week Range

First Marblehead (NYSE:FMD)

$4.86

****

(36.88%)

$4.62-$45.70

Boise (NYSE:BZ)

$5.65

No rating

(11.99%)

$5.38-$10.00

Columbia Bancorp (NASDAQ:CBBO)

$14.10

*

(11.82%)

$9.75-$22.40

Washington Mutual (NYSE:WM)

$11.81

**

(10.19%)

$8.72-$44.66

Infineon (NYSE:IFX)

$7.35

**

(6.96%)

$6.26-$18.74

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool CAPS.

Naughty?
Well, OK, we can't exactly call these stocks naughty. There are days when five-star winners and newsletter recommendations appear here. Today, sadly, is one of those days.

But, if you're an investor, you'll have plenty of bad days. The trick is to avoid dating -- or, worse, marrying -- your losers. That's why I listen when our 95,000-person-strong Motley Fool CAPS community of stock pickers speaks with a poor rating or a negative pitch. You should too.

Thus, here is today's list of the worst stocks in the world.

Worse
We begin with First Marblehead, a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick and student loan financier that took a beating when the insurer of its securitized loans, TERI, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday. Risk to its portfolio has increased as a result.

Some investors will surely argue that the risk is too great, and that First Marblehead is the obvious choice for today's worst. I disagree. Foolish colleague Bill Mann, who made the pick, best expressed why in a discussion board post from earlier this week:

Yes, this ... complicates some issues for First Marblehead since their TERI guarantees were pretty valuable. Fortunately, they're not going to be recourse onto First Marblehead, so the fact that TERI is reorganizing doesn't magically make First Marblehead's balance sheet worse.

Still, risk is risk, and First Marblehead is a riskier investment today than it was last week.

Worser
Next up is German chip maker Infineon, which was downgraded by analysts at Credit Suisse. The analysts say that soft memory-chip prices and a weak dollar threaten Infineon's profits.

They're probably right. Just as a weak dollar can help U.S. technology exporters that sell in a stronger currency (by realizing a windfall when converting to greenbacks), tech importers suffer when each dollar translates into fewer euros of buying power.

North America was Infineon's second-largest global market in fiscal 2007, accounting for roughly 25% of revenue.

Worst
But our winner is Washington Mutual, which once again cut its dividend after accepting what amounts to a $7 billion bailout. Foolish colleague Morgan Housel put it eloquently yesterday, I think:

WaMu also announced that it would cut its quarterly dividend to a ceremoniously humorous $0.01 per share, down from $0.15, and expects a first-quarter loss of $1.1 billion, loan loss provisions of $3.5 billion, and net charge-offs of $1.4 billion. Ouch.

Ceremonially humorous? Yeah, only to those not relying on the dividend payments.

Look, I respect the need for WaMu to preserve capital in a time of need. But investors shouldn't expect to suffer as a result. Especially when the primary case for investing -- a meaty dividend -- has been devoured.

Washington Mutual and its overdrawn management team ... Tuesday's Worst Stock in the CAPS world.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think by signing up for CAPS today. It's 100% free to participate.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stock horror stories.


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