Why Pentair, Zions Bancorp, and Eli Lilly & Co. Are Today’s 3 Worst Stocks

The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) charged ahead to a sixth-straight day of gains on Tuesday, locking in the longest consecutive bullish streak since November 2013. Are corporate profits at all-time highs? Not exactly. Are Americans getting full-time jobs like we've never seen before? That's a definitive no. But there isn't anywhere else to earn a return on your money, so in a low-rate environment, stocks are the investments that savers turn to. It would be a shame if you turned to these three stocks today, as they all finished at the bottom of the 500-stock index: Pentair, (NYSE: PNR  ) , Zions Bancorp (NASDAQ: ZION  ) and Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY  ) each ended as some of the most abhorrent names in the stock market today. 

Investors in the Swiss-based Pentair saw the stock slump 6.9% today after first-quarter sales came in well below Wall Street expectations. Not only did the suits on Wall Street find issue with Pentair's previous quarter, they've already picked a bone with the company's projected sales in the second quarter. Pentair steadfastly forecasts earnings per share of between $3.85 and $4 per share in 2014, easily allowing for the $3.96 in annual forecasts some firms have been looking for to materialize. 

The $5.5 billion Regional Pacific bank, Zions Bancorp, also couldn't please Wall Street on Tuesday, as shares tumbled 2% in trade. The Salt Lake City-based bank failed the Federal Reserve's mandatory stress tests, a rigorous set of conditions banks of a certain size must quality for if they hope to raise dividends or continue with stock buybacks. What is unique, and perhaps comforting, from a shareholder perspective is Zions' insistence that top executives will not be paid bonuses until the company finally passes the stress tests. 

Eli Lilly headquarters in Indianapolis. Source: company website

Switching subjects from banks to health care, Eli Lilly & Co. tumbled 1.4% today, as talks of acquiring Novartis' animal-health business got serious. According to Reuters, Novartis is willing to part with its animal-health business for $5.4 billion, an acquisition that would make Eli Lilly & Co. the second-biggest animal-health treatment group by sales, next to Zoetis, which was spun off by Pfizer in 2013. Novartis wants to offer Eli its animal-health division for two reasons: Novartis knows Eli could use it to secure its market position in that area, and the $5.4 billion price tag just happens to be what Eli Lilly held in cash at the end of its last fiscal year.

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