If you thought 2009 would suddenly heal all the wounds that last year inflicted on stocks, think again. Plenty of companies still face just as many challenges as they did during 2008, if not more. Not all of them will be up to the task.
Our Foolish writers chose 10 companies as candidates for the worst stock of 2009. Then we asked our Motley Fool CAPS community to tell us which one they believe will be the ultimate loser. Judging from the results, you have plenty of pessimism for all of these stocks. In the end, though, investors returned to the roots of the financial crisis to pick a winner.
Going in, you might have expected financial stocks such as Citigroup (NYSE: C ) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) to be odds-on favorites. But although these companies garnered plenty of downward-pointing thumbs on CAPS, they also earned support from others. More people actually picked these stocks to outperform the market going forward.
Best of the worst
Retail has had a horrible year, and prospects don't look too bright going forward, either. So it's no surprise that Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) took the fifth-worst spot. Even though it proved victorious against its rival Circuit City, that doesn't mean it won't have to suffer through tough times.
You weren't hungry for these stocks
A pair of food and beverage stocks, Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) and Panera Bread (Nasdaq: PNRA ) , ended up in the No. 3 and No. 4 slots, respectively. While Starbucks has closed hundreds of stores, laid off workers, and seen its core pricing strategy called into question, Panera has bucked the trend by passing higher prices along to its customers. But Panera may have less success meeting lofty investor expectations.
Turn out the blue light
Just missing the top spot was retailer Sears Holdings (Nasdaq: SHLD ) . With retail hurting, and the prospects for commercial real estate looking increasingly iffy, Sears could easily suffer a painful double whammy if the recession doesn't let up. Investors weren't willing to bet on that happening anytime soon.
This winner is in the doghouse
The stock you picked as the worst of 2009 is Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE: HOV ) . Our CAPS community is convinced that the worst of the collapse in housing is still to come. When it does, the homebuilder stocks currently in the most precarious financial condition -- like Hovnanian -- will see even steeper losses than they have over the past several years.
Thanks to everyone who participated in our contest. If you didn't, is it because you haven't joined our 125,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community yet? Sign up for free and chime in on your favorite picks and pans today. It's fun, informative, and potentially profitable.