Today's 3 Worst Stocks

After a sustained rally that lasted eight days, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) has fallen in two of the last three days this week. Today, there was good reason, as GDP growth stalled and the economy contracted in the fourth quarter, falling at an annualized 0.1% rate, marking the first negative rate of expansion since the recession officially ended. On a down day in the markets, the following three S&P 500 stocks were the lowest of the low.

Shares in coal producer Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU  ) fell 6.4% after a disappointing earnings report that saw losses of $1.12 per share, well below the nearly $1 per share the company earned just a year ago. Both the declining demand for coal due to its "dirty" label and the declining costs of comparable and cleaner energy alternatives didn't help Peabody in its most recent quarter. One bright spot in the company's outlook seems to be the new focus on non-U.S. markets, but that strategy shift hasn't yet paid off enough for investors. 

Communications solutions company JDS Uniphase (NASDAQ: JDSU  ) was the second-largest decliner of the day, falling 5.1% ahead of its earnings report after hours today. There weren't major reasons for the decline other than Wall Street's cynical assumption that the results wouldn't be up to par. Turns out the cynicism was unfounded, as JDS crushed expectations after the bell, swinging to a profit. Shares were up nearly 15% in late trading. 

After falling more than 2% yesterday, United States Steel (NYSE: X  ) was again an underwhelming performer Wednesday, dropping 3.8% a day after reporting losses and falling revenue in the fourth quarter yesterday. In an age where competition from aluminum producers is rising, investors don't seem to be much flattered by the company's decision to announce its first dividend, which was done yesterday. Perhaps Wall Street doesn't believe the company should be dishing out cash just yet. The stock has declined nearly 11% in the last five trading days.


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