Today's 3 Worst Stocks in the S&P 500

From energy to health care, natural gas to allergies, today's 3 laggards couldn't hang with the rest of the stock market

Mar 5, 2014 at 7:26PM

The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) pulled back ever-so-gently from its record close yesterday, as a gauge of U.S. private sector employment came in below expectations. The ADP employment report, often considered an indicator for the Labor Deartment's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, showed soft jobs growth in February. That said, the Federal Reserve's "Beige Book," which is released eight times a year and details current economic conditions, blamed low economic growth in early 2014 on the weather. Let's hope it's the weather. Unsure whether to blame Mother Nature or accept the idea of a poor labor market, the S&P 500 finished sideways, losing 0.1 points, or 0.01%, to end at 1,873. 

ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) shareholders had no trouble figuring out which way the stock should go today, sending shares down 2.8% in trade. Exxon committed to cutting costs this year, forecasting cost reductions that will run all the way through 2017. Cost reductions weren't behind today's slump, though -- lousy production rates were. Exxon's projected 2014 oil and natural gas production is expected to remain flat from last year; not only that but the company expects to drill in the Russian Arctic later in 2014, plans that could be put off if the U.S. imposes sanctions against Russia for its hostility toward Ukraine. 

Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE:PXD), a Texas company that produces oil and natural gas, saw shares lose 2.8% on Wednesday. The loss is mostly attributable to the fact that Wednesday was an awful day to be in the oil and gas business -- the sector was the worst performing of the 10 market sectors. That's because the price of oil fell 1.8% as tension from the Russia-Ukraine conflict continued to subside; natural gas prices also fell 3% today. Natural gas's relative affordability due to the U.S. energy boom in recent years is one reason Exxon made the conscious decision to decrease its natural gas production in 2014, as it waits for the supply glut to disappear. 

Lastly, shares of $21 billion generic pharmaceutical company Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL) slipped 2.4% today. Pops and drops like today's are nothing out of the ordinary for Mylan investors, who -- when including last week's 9% jump after an exemplary earnings call -- have seen shares jump 80% in the last year alone. Mylan's gross margins in the fourth quarter were great at 51%, and revenue growth was driven by the company's partnership with Pfizer, in which Mylan markets the EpiPen, a product used to treat severe allergies. As for today's decline, it's nothing for investors to lose their heads over.

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John Divine has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter, @divinebizkid, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFDivine.

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A Financial Plan on an Index Card

Keeping it simple.

Aug 7, 2015 at 11:26AM

Two years ago, University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack wrote his entire financial plan on an index card.

It blew up. People loved the idea. Financial advice is often intentionally complicated. Obscurity lets advisors charge higher fees. But the most important parts are painfully simple. Here's how Pollack put it:

The card came out of chat I had regarding what I view as the financial industry's basic dilemma: The best investment advice fits on an index card. A commenter asked for the actual index card. Although I was originally speaking in metaphor, I grabbed a pen and one of my daughter's note cards, scribbled this out in maybe three minutes, snapped a picture with my iPhone, and the rest was history.

More advisors and investors caught onto the idea and started writing their own financial plans on a single index card.

I love the exercise, because it makes you think about what's important and forces you to be succinct.

So, here's my index-card financial plan:


Everything else is details. 

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