After slipping early in the day, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) clawed its way back and ended up nearly 0.5%, or 7 points, to close at 1,525.20. This isn't anything out of the ordinary, as the S&P has added more than 11% in the past year -- nothing to scoff at. Still, today's three laggards could stand to learn something from the index -- namely, how not to end up on this list.
The absolute worst performer in the 500-stock index today was Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF ) , which fell 5.8%. Perhaps the most disconcerting part of today's abysmal showing was that it was actually a familiar scene. Shares in the mining company are down more than 60% in the past year and more than 35% in the past month alone. Not helping reverse the trend, news that the Chinese government is taking efforts to slow growth in the country was a big blow to Cliffs today.
Shares of the struggling retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP ) dropped 5.4% after news that a huge block of shares -- 10 million, to be exact -- are being shopped around by Deutsche Bank. There are 219 million shares outstanding currently. Analysts seem to agree with the market's lack of enthusiasm as well. February saw two investment groups decrease their price targets, one downgrade shares to a sell rating, and one initiate J.C. Penney as a sell. Rough month.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX ) , unlike the prior two companies, actually has some pretty compelling growth prospects. The trouble with shares today was speculation-based, as the online content-streaming service lost nearly 7% before closing 4.3% lower on fears that Carl Icahn was looking to sell his 10% stake. The moderate recovery in the stock this afternoon came after Icahn complimented the CEO and founder Reed Hastings and said he wouldn't lobby to nominate board members and thought the company was on the right track.
Cliffs Natural Resources has grown from a domestic iron ore producer into an international player in both the iron ore and metallurgical coal markets. It has also underwhelmed investors lately, especially after its dramatic 76% dividend cut in February. However, it could now be looked at as a possible value play because of several factors that are likely to remain advantageous for Cliffs' management. For details on these advantages and more, click here now to check out The Motley Fool's premium research report on the company.