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 Tuesday:

Company

Currently Fetching

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Oxford Industries (NYSE:OXM)

$28.40

**

(21.66%)

$27.66-$53.98

Vonage Holdings (NYSE:VG)

$2.19

*

(14.79%)

$0.89-$7.89

Microchip Tech (NASDAQ:MCHP)

$31.98

**

(12.67%)

$31.07-$42.46

Targacept (NASDAQ:TRGT)

$8.88

**

(8.36%)

$5.50-$12.35

Tween Brands (NYSE:TWB)

$30.69

**

(8.85%)

$27.23-$49.00

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

Naughty?
Well, OK, we can't exactly call these stocks naughty. But none of them get much love from our 65,000-person-strong Motley Fool CAPS community of amateur and professional stock pickers.

To the contrary -- when it comes to these stocks, CAPS investors have gone thumbs-down more often than film critic Roger Ebert. They don't believe any of these stocks are worth owning, and they think some may be worth shorting.

Which of today's candidates is worst? Read on, dear Fool.

Worse
We begin with VoIP vendor Vonage. One day after settling its legal contretemps with Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) , a Citi analyst said there was a 40% chance that Vonage would either restructure or go bankrupt by 2009.

Frankly, I've no idea whether he's right. Nor do I care. Everything I need to know about Vonage can be summed up in this table:

Metrics

TTM*

2006

2005

Free cash flow

($219.0)

($237.5)

($266.1)

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.
*Trailing 12 months; numbers in millions.

A coal-fired furnace would have trouble burning cash faster.

Worser
Next up is clothier Oxford Industries. To look at the first-quarter report it made available Tuesday morning is to wonder whether its shirts are completely out of style. Oxford reported a 16% decline in revenue and a 57% decline in per-share diluted earnings from continuing operations.

Yet executives are apparently unconcerned. Here's how CEO J. Hicks Lanier put it in a press release:

Our quarterly results reflect the difficult condition of the retailing market. However, the positioning of our key brands continues to be healthy. We continue to advance our strategy to rationalize our less profitable businesses and focus on the branded lifestyle market.

Positioning? Rationalization? Did Lanier actually read the cash flow statement? Free cash flow declined by 44% year over year. Management spent some $33.2 million just to keep the lights on. Rationalize that.

Worst
But our winner is semiconductor specialist Microchip Technology, which on Monday literally blamed a weaker-than-expected sales forecast on the housing bubble. Quoting CEO Steve Sanghi from a company statement:

Our business results for the September quarter have been adversely affected by several factors. Net sales associated with the U.S. housing market continued to be weak, and we also experienced weakness in other segments of our consumer-related business. [Emphasis added.]

(Sigh.)

Can we please stop blaming the subprime crisis for everything? Surely Microchip, whose chips are common components in consumer electronics, has been hurt a little by the creeping credit crunch. But shouldn't we also assume that management simply failed to execute as it expected to?

Nah, that would require accountability.

You know, I'd be more willing to give Microchip a break if it hadn't pulled this stunt before. Turns out it has. Last year at this time, Forbes reports, executives blamed a military coup in Thailand for a revenue shortfall, suggesting that its assembly plant there couldn't scale to meet demand. Shocking.

Microchip Technology and its "dog-ate-my-homework" CEO ... 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.

See you back here tomorrow for more stock horror stories.


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