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A day after earnings season kicked off, the markets continued their bullish trajectory. Wall Street is clearly optimistic that corporate America's profits will keep growing: The S&P 500 Index's (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) five-point gain today brings its year-to-date returns to 10% already. But broad commercial success isn't enough to keep all individual stocks from losing their shirts, and today's three S&P laggards illustrate that point quite well.
Far and away the worst performer in the index Tuesday, J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP ) shares took a 12.2% haircut. Yesterday the struggling retailer fired its CEO Ron Johnson and brought back the old boss, Mike Ullman. In what could be a fine case study of strategic incompetence, Ullman was fired by the board just 15 months ago. Since then, the business laid off nearly 20,000 workers and same-store sales plummeted more than 30% in the recent holiday season.
Discount retailer Dollar Tree (NASDAQ: DLTR ) also suffered an ugly day of trading, losing 2.2%. The consumer goods and services areas lost ground today, with Dollar Tree shares suffering from that trend. Although the company's last earnings report beat expectations, investors could be raking the stock over the coals due to broader (and quite unimpressive) trends in the job market. With peer and rival Family Dollar Stores (NYSE: FDO ) set to announce its earnings tomorrow morning, the market showed anxieties about the economic health of the area.
Medical device manufacturer St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ ) closes out today's spotlight on the trio of underperformers. Shares dropped 1.7% after RBC Capital Markets downgraded the stock, citing concerns about a slipping market share. St. Jude also had a tough day on Friday, when a slew of lawsuits were filed against the company alleging its responsibility in more than 30 deaths and injuries.
J.C. Penney's stock cratered under Ron Johnson's leadership, but could new CEO Mike Ullman present the opportunity investors have been waiting for? 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.