Thursday'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 Thursday:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating
(5 max)

%
Change

52-Week
Range

SLM (NYSE:SLM)

$19.65

*

(11.21)

$18.68-$58.00

Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW)

$8.60

**

(8.80)

$7.53-$15.00

XOMA (NASDAQ:XOMA)

$3.23

****

(8.76)

$1.96-$4.39

COMSYS IT Partners (NASDAQ:CITP)

$15.84

***

(8.49)

$11.60-$25.36

Citigroup (NYSE:C)

$29.56

**

(2.92)

$29.34-$57.00

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 gets much love from our 79,000-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 Orbitz, which didn't have any particularly poor news plaguing it. But last week, analysts at Stifel Nicolaus downgraded the stock because of fears of increased competition.

Good call. Orbitz is a portal that makes money two ways: from ads and from booking fees. Competitor Priceline.com recently eliminated fees at its site; Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) created an ad-serving travel portal of its own.

Where will the moola come from now, Orbitz?

Worser
Next up is Citigroup, which caught the attention of analysts at Goldman Sachs, who say the firm is likely to write down as much as $18.7 billion in bad loans.

That's in stark contrast to management's earlier predictions of $8 billion to $11 billion, which led to a controversial funding deal through which Citi will pay investors 11% on its convertible debt. (That may not be as bad as it sounds.)

We don't know if Goldman is right, but if we can agree on one thing about the credit crunch, it's probably that it has become worse than any of us expected. Well, most of us, anyway.

So, let's focus on what we know. We know that Citi's management hedged its earlier projections by referring to the possibility of greater losses. We also know that peers have taken dramatic steps to prevent the credit crunch from causing permanent damage, including a massive dividend cut at Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM  ) .

Goldman says a similar cut at Citi is now a possibility. Coincidence? Probably not.

Worst
But our winner is SLM, otherwise known as student loan specialist Sallie Mae, which is headed to the capital markets for the money it needs to stay afloat. I'd quote from the press release, but it contains some of the most confounding language I've ever read.

Here's how analysts, who already have found Sallie Mae's management less than forthcoming, define it: Sallie Mae needs the cash to settle unprofitable contracts that require it to buy back shares at above-market prices, destroying shareholder value in the process.

More than $1 billion in value, as a matter of fact.

Here's why. To meet its contractual obligations, SLM must buy back 44 million shares at $44.25 apiece. Had that same purchase been conducted as of yesterday's close -- at $19.65 a share -- Sallie Mae would have saved $1.08 billion in capital.

Oh well. It's only money, right? Sallie Mae and its buy-high, sell-low stock offering ... Thursday'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 soon with more stock horror stories.

For every post you make to CAPS or any Foolish discussion board in the month of December, The Motley Fool will donate $0.02 to charity. So give us your 2 cents and we'll pay it forward!


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