Today’s 3 Worst Stocks in the S&P 500

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Each and every day in the markets, without exception, a handful of stocks manage to give shareholders migraines. The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) , housing 500 of America's most prodigious corporations, typically endures a few shudder-inducing laggards on any given day. That said, we're currently smack dab in the middle of earnings season, and the daily swings -- even with multibillion-dollar titans of industry -- can get out of hand. Disappointing quarterly results saw these three stocks take 10% haircuts, even as the S&P 500 added five points, or 0.3%, to end at 1,752.

Shares in tech security leader Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC  ) plummeted 12.7%, despite third-quarter earnings coming in higher than expected. While the concept of a stock tanking after posting robust profits is entirely counterintuitive at first glance, it's easy to forget that forward-looking guidance is vitally important to shareholders. Symantec cut its guidance for the upcoming quarter, and investors didn't have much to interpret when CEO Steve Bennett lamented his decision to relocate 90% of its sales force

Content delivery company Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ: AKAM  ) saw a similar story play out Thursday, as shares cratered 11.2% despite an impressive quarter. Again, the red flag was in the company's anemic sales forecasts, and management's commentary on headwinds facing the business was far from vague. Akamai revealed that it was renegotiating rates with its biggest media customer, rumored to be Netflix. No matter how you spin that fact of life, Akamai comes out looking vulnerable, as Akamai clearly doesn't have leverage in the talks. 

Finally, legendary tech innovator Xerox (NYSE: XRX  ) isn't living up to its legacy, as shares slumped 10.4% after a poor quarter. When the market bets on a turnaround in business fundamentals, as it has with Xerox's stock this year, it's often a high-risk, high-reward scenario. Xerox investors need no reminder of that today, as the company's attempt to redefine itself as a service and consulting-based enterprise looks like it's floundering.

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