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:


Closing Price

CAPS Rating (5 max)

% Change

52-Week Range

Chicago Bridge & Iron (NYSE: CBI  )





Seagate Technology (NYSE: STX  )





USANA Health Sciences (Nasdaq: USNA  )





Spansion (Nasdaq: SPSN  )





Goodrich Petroleum (NYSE: GDP  )





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

Well, OK, we can't exactly call these stocks naughty. There are days when five-star winners and newsletter recommendations appear on this list. Today, sadly, is one of those days.

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.

We begin with Chicago Bridge & Iron. It feels so unfair to write that; I love what this company is doing as much as our Motley Fool Global Gains team does.

But I can't ignore comments made yesterday by CBI chief executive Philip Asherman. "In order to meet the project objectives, it became clear in the second quarter that we would have to compensate for inadequate subcontractor performance and an increasingly difficult trade union environment," he told Forbes. [Emphasis added.]

Blame-shifting isn't the issue. Trade unions do have extraordinary power in the U.K., where delayed projects hurt Chicago Bridge's bottom line. The issue is that Chicago Bridge is subject to forces it can't control, and that increases risk for investors.

Next up is Seagate Technology, a stock that's appeared in this column before, and which I sold in April. The issues then were:

  1. Management's failure to get within even spitting distance of Wall Street's expectations.
  2. Potential disruption by way of new technologies from IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) .

We have no further evidence of disruption, but as of yesterday's earnings release, we know that Seagate still isn't performing to expectations. Management told investors to look for fiscal first-quarter profit of $0.22 to $0.26 per share, less than half the $0.58 per share analysts were expecting. (Sigh.)

But our winner is flash-memory maker Spansion, which on Tuesday evening reported a $0.63-per-share second-quarter net loss. Revenue wasn't the problem; it was up 1%. But costs have been rising fast -- interest expense, for example, was up 58%.

Here's why that last number should scare the beejeezus out of common Fools:

Metric (mil.)





Cash from operations





Capital expenditures





Free Cash Flow





Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's.*Trailing 12 months ended March 30, 2008.

Spansion hasn't produced a penny of free cash flow since separating from Advanced Mirco Devices (NYSE: AMD  ) in 2005. So long as interest expense continues to eat profits, there isn't much chance of that changing.

Spansion and its anyone-seen-the-company-credit-card management team ... 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.

Chicago Bridge & Iron is a Global Gains recommendation. Try this market-beating service free for 30 days. There's no obligation to subscribe.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers, ranked 20,974 out of more than 110,000 participants in CAPS, also writes for Motley Fool 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.

Tim owned shares of IBM 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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