Today's 3 Worst Stocks

The S&P 500 Index's (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) four-day run came to an end Friday. A slowdown in consumer spending hit retail stocks, and Wall Street didn't find much to get excited about upon considering the low, sub-2% growth some economists are calling for this earnings season. But when all was said and done, the S&P had lost less than 0.3%, a minuscule amount when compared to the day's three biggest laggards.

Hudson City Bancorp (NASDAQ: HCBK  ) , which is set to be acquired by M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB  ) , lost 5.5% on news that the deal will be delayed as the Federal Reserve investigates money laundering accusations at M&T. It's no surprise that the Paramus, New Jersey-based Hudson City took the news hard: Shares in companies that are acquired often surge upon completion of the deal, as the larger company pays a market premium to gain control. 

M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB  ) itself registers as the second big underperformer today, dipping 4.5%. Obviously, investigations into the legality (and morality) of M&T's operations represent all risk and no reward for shareholders. Saying that the time frame of the potential Hudson City acquisition will be "extended substantially," both parties now have until Jan. 31 to cancel the deal, a more than five-month extension from the original Aug. 27 date.

Rounding out today's laggards, Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF  ) went the way of its sector, falling 3.6% Friday, after materials prices declined across the board. Down more than 50% this year alone, investors have exited the stock en masse. With a global energy landscape that seems to be trending toward cleaner solutions than the coal-based offerings that Cliffs has large interests in, the miner may be in long-term trouble unless it adapts to the demand environment. 

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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