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Stocks traded moderately higher today, with the benchmark S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) adding 2.4 points, or 0.16%, to close at 1,519 ahead of President Obama's State of the Union speech tonight. Alas, there will always be underperformers, and no matter how patriotic the following three companies may be, their shares still underperformed hundreds and hundreds of their S&P peers.
Shares in the for-profit education provider Apollo Group (NASDAQ: APOL ) , which operates post-secondary institutions such as the Web-based University of Phoenix, fell 3.3% today, after a poor showing in the most recent quarter from one of the company's competitors, Capella Education. Capella's woes -- stricter admissions standards and an ultra-competitive job market, to name a few -- are the same that have driven Apollo's stock down more than 60% in the last year.
Banking services company Fidelity National Information Services (NYSE: FIS ) also had a tough time today, dropping 2.8% after reporting quarterly results this morning. Even though FIS grew both revenues and profits from a year before, today's fall was another result of simply not living up to analyst expectations. Even slight misses -- $1.5 billion in revenue instead of $1.51 billion; EPS of $0.68 instead of $0.69 -- were enough to send shares spiraling downward today.
The last, but by no means least, of today's laggards is Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) , the globally recognized technology giant that briefly held the title as the largest company in the world last year. The stock fell 2.5% after a lengthy speech by CEO Tim Cook at a technology conference left investors worried Cook didn't have his head on straight about shareholder value. Cook was rather frank, saying that while hedge fund manager David Einhorn's proposal was "creative," litigation costs stemming from his recent lawsuit were "a waste of shareholder money and a distraction."
Reading between the lines of Cook's talk today, one UBS analyst said it sounded as if Apple was gearing up to market a low-end phone, and that margins could be pressured as a result.
There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded, with more than 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple and what opportunities are left for the company (and, more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.