These 4 Stocks Have Held the S&P 500 Back

The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) hit a new record high on March 28, its first since late 2007. After that, the S&P didn't stop rising, and the major market benchmark has gained more than 4% from its late-March levels, surprising many skeptical investors who expected a major correction to follow the multi-year recovery.

For some stocks, though, that correction has become reality despite the S&P's general move upward. Let's look at the four S&P 500 stocks that have lost the most ground since the index's initial March 28 record close.

Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM  ) , down 20.9%
For Newmont Mining, the cause of the major downdraft is obvious: the plunge in gold prices that took place in mid-April. Given the size of Newmont's gold-mining business, it can't look to growth prospects as a major driver of profits in the same way that small developing mines can. Rather, much of its earnings depend on gold prices, and the plunge has made investors nervous about Newmont's ability to sustain its profits at current levels. Despite some signs of stabilizing gold prices, the rebound hasn't been solid enough to get Newmont's shares higher, and until they do, Newmont will remain under pressure as the impact on earnings plays out in the quarters to come.

Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW  ) , down 17.4%
Edwards was a victim of poor quarterly results, with the stock falling 22% after its first-quarter results missed estimates for both revenue and earnings. Moreover, the company gave disappointing guidance for the remainder of the year, calling into question the ability of the heart-valve maker to compete in an increasingly challenging medical-device environment. In particular, weak projections for its Sapien heart valve show the impact of competitive threats from rival device-makers. To rebound, Edwards needs to boost revenue from its other businesses and fight back against competition.

Cognizant Technology (NASDAQ: CTSH  ) , down 15.1%
As an important player in information-technology services, Cognizant's decline largely followed poor results from other large IT companies during April. With firms around the world looking to cash in on high profit margins available from a more services-based business, Cognizant finds itself under threat from increased competition. As it turned out, Cognizant's own earnings were fairly strong, leading the stock to a substantial recovery. But until the company finds a lasting niche, it'll be hard for it to convince investors of the sustainability of its success.

Marathon Petroleum (NYSE: MPC  ) , down 13.6%
Refinery stocks across the industry have performed well and been an important part of the S&P's long-term rally, but last month, they gave up ground as the spreads between U.S. and foreign crude prices started to narrow. An even more serious threat to Marathon and its peers comes from new environmental laws that will require extensive capital expenditures to comply. For Marathon to start moving higher again, it needs to see spreads start to widen again and for heightened energy use to keep prices up while still getting cheap oil from the U.S. oil patch.

Will these stocks hurt the S&P prospects?
If the stock market stops hitting new records, watch to see if these four stocks lead the overall market downward. With so many other stocks in the index, it'd be remarkable if these laggards continue to be the main weights holding back the index in the future.

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