These Stocks Will Burn Your Portfolio

"Tastes like ... burning."
-- Ralph Wiggum

Good news! You're about to learn something that will potentially save you serious money.

The bad news is that, if you're reading this, it could mean something in your portfolio is Molotov cocktail-flammable.

Yikes!
We recently asked a group of our top contributors to provide you with a stock anti-pitch. Stocks to avoid. Stocks that can burn you.

And my, did our friends deliver. Surprisingly, though, the stocks our writers presented aren't an homage to the blazin'-hot valuations of agriculture plays such as PotashCorp (NYSE: POT  ) or Monsanto (NYSE: MON  ) , or sweaty solar stocks such as First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR  ) . Those stocks are richly priced, but they're also posting breakneck growth and improving fundamentals.

Each name on our proposed team of Stock Non-Stars possesses at least one of the following traits:

1. An iffy business
RadioShack? What, is that a play on mini-malls and calculator batteries? Driven a Ford (NYSE: F  ) lately? Increasingly, your friends haven't, either. And when was the last time you heard of people camping out for the newest Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) offering?

... or ...

2. A black box
Are financials irrationally beaten down? Probably. Does anyone have any idea what impossible-to-understand financial black boxes such as Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM  ) or Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE  ) are worth at this point? I don't, that's for sure. Our writers pinpoint two other questionable financial hot potatoes.

More bad news
But it isn't just our analysts who dislike these stocks: So do you, the Fool community. All of these cellar dwellers are tagged with the scarlet letter of the Fool community: a bottom-tier one-star rating from the community investor-intelligence database that is Motley Fool CAPS. That's good data to have: One-star stocks have collectively proved to be market underperformers. So if you have 110,000-plus of our closest investing friends telling you this stock is a potentially huge loser, well, you'd be playing with fire to turn a blind eye, right?

OK, now some great news!
The cheery news is that we're going to give you the run-down on each of these stocks before they can do any more damage to your portfolio. And not content with just saving you money, our writers are even sprinkling in some stock ideas of their own. What can I say -- they're a giving people.

Now, just shooting straight here, some of the dogs we identify are so distressed that even the slightest signs of a turnaround could send their shares soaring. (Witness the airlines last week.) But if you're the type who hates losing money, read on, my friend. And for that matter, Fool on!

Our stocks to avoid:

Joe Magyer does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Shocker, right? The Fool's disclosure policy denies any and all involvement with the assassination of Jesse James.


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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 30, 2008, at 4:39 PM, trgeorge wrote:

    I agree with all those.

  • Report this Comment On July 31, 2008, at 9:51 AM, akm725 wrote:

    "when was the last time you heard of people camping out for the newest Palm (Nasdaq: PALM) offering?"

    So Joe,

    Besides the iPhone can you name another cell phone that had customers camping out for it? No, I didn't think so. Not every manufacturer has to beat the "Jesus" phone in order to be successful.

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