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.

A jubilant Wall Street bid the stock market higher today, as U.S. retail sales data from December managed to top some truly low expectations. You might have trouble believing that a 0.2% monthly rise in retail sales sparked Tuesday's rally, but then you'd be forgetting that was double what analysts expected. That was plenty for investors, who sent the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) up 19 points, or 1.1%, to end at 1,838. 

Although nearly three stocks advanced for every one that fell today, Tuesday's underperformers were able to boldly ignore the sweeping optimism of the market and decline for their own reasons. Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM  ) , for instance, finished as one of the day's most notable losers, retreating 2% by the session's end. The company is simply in the wrong business at the wrong time: Newmont Mining is in the copper and gold excavation industry. And in case you've been under a rock mining for gold for the last year, you should know that gold's popularity has waned. The price of the precious metal has fallen more than 25% from 52-week highs in the face of an economic recovery and the Federal Reserve's long-anticipated "tapering" policies.

Similar macro issues drove down shares of Health Care REIT (NYSE: HCN  ) , which fell 1.5% today. Since the company's unique nature as a real estate investment trust allows it to redistribute earnings directly to investors for tax purposes, Health Care REIT acts a little differently than a "normal" stock. Although I think its focus on senior living properties is a shrewd niche to target considering an aging baby-boomer population, the company can't escape the negative effects of rising interest rates on shareholder returns. Today's low-rate environment allows the business to easily borrow money in order to reward investors, but the transition to a higher-rate era will be painful and may mean diminished distributions.

Finally, shares of Expeditors International of Washington (NASDAQ: EXPD  ) , a Seattle-based logistics company, slipped 1% today. Today's pullback wasn't preceded by any disappointing news or company scandal, and with most of its peers advancing with the market, it's tough to say where the negative sentiment originated. One thing is unequivocally true: The company maintains a solid business and knows how to turn a profit. However, its inability to grow beyond recent levels must be troubling for investors, as they've watched commerce increase and the company's results remain stagnant in recent years. Hopefully Expeditors International of Washington veteran and incoming CEO Jeffrey S. Musser will be able to rattle the cage and boost profits when he takes the helm on March 1.

The death of Wal-Mart: The real cash kings changing the face of retail
December's retail numbers managed to top expectations, and with the U.S. on the road to economic redemption, consumer spending should continue to increase. To learn about two retailers with especially good prospects, take a look at The Motley Fool's special free report: "The Death of Wal-Mart: The Real Cash Kings Changing the Face of Retail." In it, you'll see how these two cash kings are able to consistently outperform and how they're planning to ride the waves of retail's changing tide. You can access it by clicking here.


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