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Fool Poll: More Bad News for Lehman

Its stock is down over 70% in the past year. It's been the subject of rumors for months. The SEC is even investigating whether short-sellers are spreading misinformation about the company. And now, the Fool community has added its opinion about Lehman Brothers (NYSE: LEH  ) .

And that opinion is not good. In an unscientific poll asking which company would be next to have a Bear Stearns-style implosion, the vast majority -- over 44,000 votes -- overwhelmingly chose Lehman.

That's over six times more than struggling automaker General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) . Eight times more than mortgage-plagued Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM  ) . Even lumping homebuilders like Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL  ) and Pulte Homes (NYSE: PHM  ) into a single category, they could only muster 5,500 votes.

Is the worst over?
A lot of those votes, however, were cast before the recent recovery in financials. Since its low on Monday, Lehman stock is up over 40%. For the moment, at least, the investment banks have survived another round of bad news.

The longer-term question remains whether Lehman and other downtrodden financial stocks like Swiss bank UBS (NYSE: UBS  ) can outlast the current turmoil in the credit markets. Lehman is making plenty of good moves -- it raised capital at an opportune moment, and it's playing hardball against short-sellers to defend shareholders. After taking a loss of $2.8 billion last quarter, analysts currently believe Lehman's on target to report a modest profit in September.

Yet many still aren't willing to bet on the beaten-down firm. Members of our CAPS community still give the stock its lowest one-star rating. Meanwhile, among large investment banks, CAPS members show much more confidence in three-star rated Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) , which has thus far come through the crisis looking relatively pretty.

As long as housing and the overall economy are still in peril, firms like Lehman will have to fight hard. As bleak as things look now, though, I think it'll take a lot more to force Lehman to throw in the towel.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger voted that there won't be another Bear Stearns this time around. He doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Fool's disclosure policy supports you.

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