Today's 3 Worst Stocks

No matter the market, there will always be losers -- a few lagging disappointments holding back a Wall Street rally, or several big losers leading a bearish day. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) took a hit today, and lost 0.8%, and several notable names helped bring down the index and make investors pull their hair out in frustration. Here are the three worst stocks today that you need to know about -- from tech to big-box retail, these stocks put a dent in Wall Street’s Thursday.

Sales falling at a mall near you
Retailer JC Penney’s (NYSE: JCP  ) been nothing but bad lately -- shares are down more than 56% over the past year -- and today’s 4% drop is enough for the beleaguered retailer to make our list of losers. The company’s annual report dropped investor confidence like a brick, as JC Penney announced that its turnaround could take longer than expected, going as far as saying: “There is no assurance that we will be able to successfully implement our strategic initiatives.”

Props to the company for its modesty, but that doesn’t sound like an organization that believes in its long-term plan. With revenue’s falling, the chain slashed thousands of jobs last year, and sluggish economic growth, coupled with the payroll tax hike and sequestration, aren’t helping JC Penney’s turnaround plan. About the only thing going for the stock is that it’s much cheaper than it was a year ago; but paying less for a share of a company in trouble isn’t a better buy. It’s just a cheaper one.

Tech also had a day to forget today, and AMD (NYSE: AMD  ) was one of the day’s biggest laggards. The stock also shed 4%, despite little real news out of the company today. AMD fell alongside many of its fellow tech companies in the sector’s plunge. The stock’s done alright year to date after suffering a horrific 2012, but, like many of its rivals, AMD’s still struggling with a PC market in decline and falling fast. The company’s made moves to adapt to growing markets such as mobile, as seen with its latest investment in photo editing software firm Aviary, but AMD still lags Intel in the PC arena, and has a lot of work to do to catch up to rivals on tablets and other mobile devices.

Neither of these stocks matched the losses at today’s biggest loser, however. Our top laggard of the day is none other than Oracle (NYSE: ORCL  ) . The tech firm’s stock lost a punishing 9.7% as investors fled from the company’s miss on revenue and earnings per share in the third quarter. Credit Agricole downgraded Oracle to “underperform” from “outperform” alongside several other brokers who reduced their price targets for the stock.

Oracle’s still in danger after saying that its lagging hardware sales will continue to fall in the near future. While the company’s confident in its software sales licensing business -- Oracle predicted new license sales to jump between 1% and 11% this quarter -- it's still battling rivals as it looks to firm up its future. Today, at least, investors weren’t so confident in what that future holds.

Is there hope for this turnaround?

J.C. Penney has been a train wreck whose comeback always seems just around the next earnings corner, but investors are beginning to doubt that CEO Ron Johnson can weave the same magic that he did at Apple. If you're wondering whether J.C. Penney is a buy today, you're invited to claim a copy of The Motley Fool's must-read report on the company. Learn everything you need to know about JCP's turnaround -- or lack thereof. Simply click here now for instant access.


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