Today's 3 Worst Stocks

Rising for a seventh straight day, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is on an absolute roll; Monday's close brought it within a mere 10 points of all-time highs. But even on a day where the CBOE Volatility Index declined to multi-year lows, signaling confidence in equities markets, there were several stocks with unfortunate showings. Let's look at three of the S&P's most unfortunate on Monday.

Wall Street can have high expectations, and cloud platform provider Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ: AKAM  ) fell victim to those today. Doing little more wrong than simply maintaining its previously stated first-quarter guidance, the stock tumbled 4.4%. Still expecting earnings of $0.45 to $0.47 per share in the quarter, analysts were looking for $0.50 per share. 

Oil refining and marketing company Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO  ) is today's second major laggard, falling 3.9%. The stock also made a cameo on Friday's 3 Worst Stocks segment after it announced it was shifting some operations to the West Coast in what was seen as a potentially capital-intensive strategic shift. The cause of today's stumble only compounds those concerns, as the company said one of its California hydrocracking units shut down unexpectedly yesterday.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF  ) rounds out the last of the underperformers today, having fallen 3.6%. This ore mining company is another business that's gotten a little too familiar with inclusion on this list, having fallen nearly 35% in the past month alone.

Data from China today showing that industrial production came in below forecasts didn't help matters; slowing industrial demand in one of the world's largest and fastest-growing economies means trouble for energy mainstays like Cliffs. Combine that with recent financial woes that forced management to trim the dividend and issue more shares last year, and you can't blame Wall Street for being a little pessimistic about the company's prospects.

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 due to 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.


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