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Bouncing back from midday lows, the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC ) overcame early deficits, ending the day 13 points, or 0.9% higher, closing at 1,622. The big news tomorrow will be the Labor Department's monthly employment report, which takes a gauge of private and public sector payrolls. Investors in today's three biggest laggards, however, couldn't retain any sense of optimism, and all three ended Thursday in the dregs of the S&P.
J.M. Smucker (NYSE: SJM ) was the most pronounced decliner of the day, losing 3.9% on the heels of a disappointing earnings forecast. Strangely enough, Smucker's quarter wasn't all that bad, and the company handily beat profit expectations. The red flag for investors, though, was the fact that sales declined for the first time in years; on top of that, earnings forecasts for the current fiscal year were on the low end of expectations.
Semiconductor chip designer Altera (NASDAQ: ALTR ) slipped 3.2% Thursday, despite a lack of major company-related news on the day. This week, however, saw a material change in the prospects for Altera's stock: On Monday, the company announced a whopping 50% boost in its quarterly dividend, raising it from $0.10, to $0.15. With an annual dish-out of $0.60 per share, Altera's annual payout sits at 1.9%.
Communication equipment and mail logistics company Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI ) rounds out today's list, having shed 2.9%. Shares enjoyed a brief boost earlier this week, and even made it on the day's 3 Best Stocks list, when the company appointed Roger Pilc as its Chief Innovation Officer on Tuesday. Pilc has direct experience directing market share growth at CA Technologies, an enterprise management software provider. Despite the fresh look, it appears the excitement has already worn off as investors, once again, face the bleak future in direct mail-related services.