These three companies did not live up to Mr. Market's expectations last week.
We'll check them out a bit, because sometimes an earnings stumble is a signal to sell, but digging in the dirt is also a good way to find turnaround candidates while they seem stuck in the mud.
Don't take gold too literally
We're starting way down in an Indonesian gold mine. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold
McMoRan is developing new properties in the Americas and the Republic of Congo, and sees much higher copper and molybdenum output in the upcoming year. With growing infrastructure needs in countries like China, India, and Brazil, those utilitarian metals should see continued price increases for years to come, while gold happens to be in vogue right now but faces a less certain future.
With those factors in mind, I'd much rather invest in proactive mining experts like McMoRan or Rio Tinto
Home on the range
So we're out of the mine with our canary still a-twitter, and there's decent cell phone reception here in the open air. Communications specialist Qualcomm
That magnitude of an earnings miss can happen because the CEO coughs during an awkward silence at a business meeting, or because a mid-level sales rep decides to part his hair on the left one day. In other words, it's tantamount to a rounding error and nothing to worry about.
The company does face challenges in the legal arena from tough competitors like Texas Instruments
I'll take my chocolate shaken, not stirred
Have a chocolate bar, cowboy. Candy connoisseur Hershey
This is a deeply disturbed business right now, having ousted and replaced eight of 11 board members last November, after the controlling Hershey Trust lost faith in the steering committee. A rumored merger with overseas rival Cadbury Schweppes
So I'd grab some candy and sit down to watch the show until we've got a better view of Hershey's direction. As far as the stock has fallen recently, there might be even better deals ahead.
Some of these underperformers are victims of larger circumstances; others might have only themselves to blame. It's up to you to decide which down-on-their-luck companies will pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and which are languishing in the muck for real.
Further Foolish reading: