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 (out of 5)

% Change

52-Week Range

Fifth Third Bancorp. (Nasdaq: FITB  )

$9.26

*

(27.26%)

$9.23-$43.20

Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN  )

$13.68

**

(8.19%)

$12.81-$24.32

Journal Communications (NYSE: JRN  )

$5.36

*

(7.59%)

$5.19-$13.53

General Motors (NYSE: GM  )

$14.89

*

(5.88%)

$14.75-$43.20

FedEx (NYSE: FDX  )

$82.60

***

(2.05%)

$80.00-$119.10

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, sadly, is 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 110,000-person-strong Motley Fool CAPS community of stock pickers speaks with a poor rating or a negative pitch. You should, too.

Thus, here is today's list of the worst stocks in the world.

Worse
We begin with FedEx, a well-regarded Stock Advisor selection that suffered a sell-off when it presented fiscal 2009 estimates well below what the Street had expected. Fourth-quarter net income wasn't any better. The bottom line reversed from a $1.96-per-share gain a year ago to a $0.78 loss in this year's Q4.

At least management didn't pull punches. Here's how Chief Financial Officer Alan Graf described the poor outlook in a conference call yesterday:

[W]e do expect conditions to remain extremely challenging and we anticipate in both the first quarter guidance and the yearly target the current economic weakness will continue and the current level of fuel costs will not mitigate.

Translation: The same fuel fiasco that's killing legacy carriers like AMR (NYSE: AMR  ) is also attacking our bottom line.

Worser
Next up is General Motors, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, is delaying a redesign of its lines of sport utility vehicles and full-size trucks in favor of lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

On balance, I applaud the move. What's troubling is that GM is already suffering from slower revenue and a leveraged balance sheet. Not exactly the best timing for a restructuring.

And this move isn't exactly forward-looking. Inside Value recommendation CarMax (NYSE: KMX  ) reported that profit fell 55% in its fiscal first quarter, and that's with its used-car sales up 6%. All automakers have work to do to spur interest in new models.

Worst
But our winner is Tyson Foods, which made this column two weeks ago after 15,000 of its chickens were exposed to a strain of avian flu.

This time, Tyson's problem isn't with chickens, but with credit. Ratings agency Fitch yesterday cut Tyson's debt rating to junk, following a similar downgrade from Moody's.

Investors needn't panic. Tyson says that none of its credit agreements have been affected by the downgrades. Still, this no-confidence vote means that Tyson should no longer be considered a buy-and-forget-about-it investment.

To the contrary, Tyson should face higher interest and steeper collateral requirements were it to once again turn to the debt market for capital, as it has in two of the past three fiscal years.

Tyson Foods and its corn-fed credit conundrum ... 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.

Fool.com contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 19,312 out of more than 110,000 participants in CAPS, also writes for Rule Breakers. He hopes that Keith Olbermann doesn't mind the blatant theft of his "Worst Person in the World" segment from Countdown. Remember, Keith, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

FedEx and Moody's are Stock Advisor selections. CarMax is an Inside Value pick. Try either of these market-beating services for 30 days, risk-free.

Tim didn't own shares of any of the stocks mentioned in this article at the time of publication. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy thinks that cooked spinach is the worst veggie in the world.


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