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

PDL BioPharma (NASDAQ:PDLI)

$10.71

****

(32.39%)

$10.36-$27.98

Ambac Financial (NYSE:ABK)

$8.70

*

(18.84%)

$4.50-$96.10

Chico's FAS (NYSE:CHS)

$8.50

***

(13.88%)

$6.70-$27.94

Oplink Communications (NASDAQ:OPLK)

$11.57

****

(10.17%)

$10.57-$18.10

WCI Communities (NYSE:WCI)

$3.31

*

(7.28%)

$1.35-$23.15

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

Naughty?
Well, OK, we can't exactly call these stocks naughty. There are days when five-star winners and newsletter recommendations appear here. Today isn't one of those days.

But if you're an investor, you'll have plenty of bad days. The trick is to avoid dating -- or, worse, marrying -- your losers. That's why I listen when our 85,000-person-strong Motley Fool CAPS community of stock pickers speaks with a poor rating or a negative pitch. You should, too.

Here is more on the latest worst stocks in the world.

Worse
We begin with Chico's FAS, which reported out of style fourth-quarter earnings and tattered same-store sales. But what makes the stock among today's worst is its outlook for 2008. Or, better yet, its lack of guidance for the year ahead.

Quoting CEO Scott Edmonds from yesterday's earnings call:

We are currently forecasting negative comparable store sales for the first half of 2008 and expect to have lower earnings than the first half of 2007. Our current expectations are to return to positive comparable store sales increase in the second half of 2008, resulting in overall earnings growth during this time frame.


Translation: It's going to be bad, but maybe not that bad. Or maybe it will be. Talk to us again in a quarter or three.

Worser
Next up is PDL BioPharma, which was sold from our Rule Breakers scoreboard last fall after existing management decided its best move was to find a suitor. Quoting Foolish colleague Charly Travers from back then:

Almost all of PDL's pipeline drugs are shared in a 50-50 collaboration with Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB  ) . That made Biogen the most logical choice to acquire PDL, but with Biogen shopping itself around, that's not going to happen. And since most of PDL's developmental drugs are tied up in the Biogen partnership, it will be very difficult for PDL to find a buyer.

Talk about prescient. PDL on Wednesday said it received no worthwhile offers for the company or its pipeline of in-development drugs. And executives aren't holding out hope: At least $500 million of the capital PDL raised via asset sales is to be returned to shareholders.

Worst
But our winner is, for the second time in as many quarters, WCI Communities, which reported awful Q4 earnings and reduced cash flow guidance. Quoting CEO Jerry Starkey from a company statement:

WCI generated approximately $160 to $170 million of cash flow from operating and investing activities in the fourth quarter and $220 to $230 million for the full year.

Here's what he said last quarter:

While lower demand and increased defaults have severely hampered our earnings, we continue to expect significant cash flow in the fourth quarter to result in about $210 million to $460 million of cash flow for the full year ($200 million to $450 million from operating activities and $10 million from investing activities).

Notice anything? WCI's best-case scenario for the full year is now roughly equal to the worst-case scenario executives offered up three months ago.

And I thought only astronauts experienced freefall. Sheesh. WCI and its cash-crunched business model ... 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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