Friday's Worst Stocks in the World

Bad days. We all have them; some of us deserve them.

These five stocks' naughty ways drew investors' scorn on Friday:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Coldwater Creek (NASDAQ:CWTR)

$7.82

**

(28.06%)

$7.72 - $31.25

City Telecom (NASDAQ:CTEL)

$9.10

*

(15.35%)

$1.27 - $14.62

Feldman Mall Pptys. (NYSE:FMP)

$6.12

*

(13.19%)

$5.75 - $13.00

ExpressJet Holdings (NYSE:XJT)

$2.86

**

(10.34%)

$2.86 - $9.61

Blue Nile (NASDAQ:NILE)

$87.92

**

(9.90%)

$33.05 - $106.16

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 the 65,000 members of our Motley Fool CAPS community of amateur and professional stock pickers.

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 firms are worth owning, and they think some may be worth shorting.

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

Bad
We begin with Feldman Mall Properties, which on Thursday evening announced mediocre first-quarter results, including a $0.01 year-over-year decline in funds from operations.

But that's not why Feldman, which is seeking to be acquired, makes our list. Quoting from its press release:

The Company will defer any further dividend declarations pending the outcome of strategic alternatives. The reinstatement of the dividend will be based on the Company's future operating cash flow and projected liquidity requirements for property-level redevelopment. The Company shall also take into account the minimum dividend requirements needed to maintain REIT status. [Emphasis added.]

What's the point of owning a REIT that doesn't pay a dividend? Answer: There isn't one. Moving on.

Worse
Next up is regional airline ExpressJet, which makes today's list for being far too dependent on large carriers for business. Witness its declining returns on capital and equity since Continental (NYSE: CAL  ) stopped paying a premium for capacity:

Metrics

TTM*

2006

2005

Return on capital

5.9%

21.1%

25.9%

Return on equity

10.7%

36.1%

60.8%

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

But that's only half the story. When ExpressJet reported traffic on Thursday night, there was a whopping 24.2-percentage-point difference in load factor for aircraft flown under the ExpressJet banner (51.4% load factor) versus those flown for a major carrier like Continental or Delta (NYSE: DAL  ) (75.6% load factor).

Translation: ExpressJet is one bad day away from becoming the next Independence Air.

Worst
But our winner is clothing retailer Coldwater Creek, which said it would suffer a third-quarter loss, and at best break even in its fiscal fourth quarter. Hello, housing bust.

At least CEO Dan Griesemer wasn't making excuses. Quoting from the press release:

We are clearly disappointed in the current business trends, including continued lower customer traffic, and a highly promotional environment, the combination of which is likely to result in negative net income and earnings per share performance in the third quarter ... [W]e are staying focused on our commitment to deliver compelling product and outstanding service to our customers, while we are vigorously implementing further expense reductions.

Refreshing. So what makes Coldwater Creek today's worst? This sentence: "Coldwater Creek also announced today that its Board of Directors has authorized a program to repurchase up to $75 million of its common stock over the next 12 months."

Wait. Didn't Griesemer just say that Coldwater Creek needs a once-over? Won't that cost, um, money? Why spend it on a buyback now?

For its part, Coldwater Creek says it has a "healthy" balance sheet, which is true. The retailer has roughly $130 million in the bank, with no debt. But with this buyback, that won't last. Free cash flow has declined from $22.5 million in fiscal 2005 (ended Jan. 28, 2006) to just $4 million over the trailing 12 months.

What happens when the housing crisis gets worse and free cash flow finally runs negative, Mr. Griesemer? What will do you do with the $1.6 million in Coldwater Creek stock you've cashed out over the past year?

Here's an idea: How about you stop saying the stock is cheap, and start buying some shares for yourself? At least then, investors would know that you mean what you say when you're spending their money.

Coldwater Creek and its "Let's buy back some stock to keep shareholders off our backs" management team ... Friday'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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