Wednesday'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 Wednesday:

Company

Closing Price

CAPS Rating (5 max)

% Change

52-Week Range

Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS)

$19.45

**

(30.91%)

$15.87-$40.70

Stereotaxis (NASDAQ:STXS)

$8.91

**

(22.39%)

$8.07-$16.88

PFF Bancorp (NYSE:PFB)

$8.15

*

(21.26%)

$7.12-$34.67

California Pizza Kitchen (NASDAQ:CPKI)

$10.10

**

(17.69%)

$9.32-$25.23

Portugal Telecom (NYSE:PT)

$13.37

****

(8.49%)

$12.46-$15.23

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 81,000-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 PFF Bancorp, which said that it would need to once again set aside funds to cover anticipated loan and lease losses. Management expects reserves to be "comparable" to the $34 million PFF held back last quarter.

PFF isn't alone, of course. No less than Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM  ) faces a similar problem. Security Bank (Nasdaq: SBKC  ) , too. Talk about cold comfort.

Worser
Next up is California Pizza Kitchen, which reported decelerating same-store sales in its fourth quarter. Quoting from the press release:

During its November 8, 2007 conference call, the Company forecasted a comparable restaurant sales increase of 2.0%-3.0% and fourth quarter 2007 earnings in the range of $0.22-$0.23 per diluted share. Based on fourth quarter 2007 revenues and comparable restaurant sales of 2.8%, 1.7% and 0.7% in October, November and December, respectively, management now expects earnings of $0.16-$0.18 per diluted share. [Emphasis added.]

Declining same-store sales, or comps, is rarely a good sign. Here, it suggests that CPK's lower-income customers are reacquainting themselves with the frozen food aisle, rather than stopping in for a barbeque chicken watchamacallit.

Worst
But our winner is Scientific Games, which lost its third online lottery contract in a month, this time for the state of Pennsylvania. Earlier losses came in South Carolina and West Virginia.

If we were talking primary politics, Scientific Games would already be out of the race. No bunting, no confetti, just a concession speech before a throng of dispirited supporters coming down from a triple-espresso high.

A Jefferies & Co. analyst excused the losses by explaining that Scientific Games is now aiming for "higher return on invested capital contracts." Good idea. Return on capital has declined every year since 2004.

Now if only there were some high ROIC contracts on which to bid. Scientific Games and its lottery-contract losing streak ... Wednesday'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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