Why Express Scripts Holding Company, Exelon Corporation, Marathon Oil Corporation Are Today's 3 Worst Stocks

One massive energy company is created, oil and natural gas stumble, and a health care company gets hit with an investigation in the stock market today.

Apr 30, 2014 at 7:53PM

First-quarter GDP numbers were released today, and if you didn't know any better you'd think the country was back in recession mode. The U.S. economy grew at just a 0.1% pace in the first quarter, far below the 1.1% economists were expecting. But shareholders of Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX), Exelon (NYSE:EXC), and Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO) had bigger things to worry about, as each stock ended near the bottom of the S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) today. The S&P, for its part, shrugged off the bad economic omen, adding 5 points, or 0.3%, to end at 1,833.

Shares of Express Scripts tumbled 6.2% as the health care plan provider gave stockholders nothing but a heavy dosage of dreadful news. It started off by reporting first quarter sales and earnings that missed Wall Street expectations. While the company's net income was about 3% below forecasts and revenue missed by a meager 0.5%, it also guided full-year earnings per share lower and announced that it was under investigation by the Feds. This, by almost any standards, was destined to be a very poor day in the stock market for Express Scripts. CEO George Paz stood up for the company, saying he was confident that investigations into the company's relationship with drugmakers would clear it of any wrongdoing.

Exelon Corporation also ended as one of Wednesday's biggest laggards, falling 3.2% in trading. The power utility bought Pepco, making Exelon the largest power distributor in the U.S. Usually acquiring companies see their stock prices fall when they offer to snatch up a competitor, since they're usually forced to pay a steep premium and invest significant resources in the acquisition, so today's plunge isn't anything out of the ordinary in that regard. A takeover of Pepco increases Exelon's exposure to government-regulated markets, making the combined company's cash flows more predictable, a move some investors saw as overly conservative and restrictive to future growth. 


Source: company website

Finally, shares of oil and natural gas company Marathon Oil dropped 2% on Wednesday, as oil and natural gas prices took a dive. Oil fell 1.5% and natural gas was down 0.3% today. Part of the stock market's reluctance to accept the Pepco deal had to do with the fact that the incredible affordability of natural gas has driven energy prices to unsustainably low levels. By keeping its beak wet in unregulated markets, Exelon could participate in a resurgence in energy prices. However, Marathon Oil is a prime example of how too much exposure to unregulated markets can work against you, since results are more prone to rising and falling energy prices. 

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

The Motley Fool recommends Exelon and Express Scripts and owns shares of Express Scripts. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of fool.com.

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to www.fool.com/beginners, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at www.fool.com/podcasts.

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers