I'm an optimist at heart. It actually pained me when I began my weekly "Throw This Stock Away" column back in June, because I would rather wax bullish on companies than knock what my fellow investors are buying.

Still, my timing couldn't have been better. Given the brutal beating that the market has taken in recent months, most of my weekly pans seem brilliant in retrospect. I had help, of course. A monkey throwing darts could have made a killing shorting where the points poked. However, I owe it to readers to go over the performance of my sell recommendations.

It's all about accountability, so let's take a quick peek back at how the first seven stocks that I dissed are faring these days.

 

Date

Price

11/21/08

Change

Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO)

6/2

$26.40

$9.39

(64%)

Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX)

6/9

$17.52

$7.83

(55%)

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM)

6/16

$140.98

$44.80

(68%)

eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY)

6/23

$27.73

$12.01

(57%)

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

6/30

$27.51

$19.68

(28%)

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ)

7/7

$44.00

$34.64

(21%)

General Motors (NYSE:GM)

7/17

$12.85

$3.06

(76%)

That's a lot of heavy carnage. My initial sell recommendations have gone on to tank by an average of 53%. Even if you factor in the market's slide in that time -- off by 36% to 42% since the columns were originally published -- the beatings are beating the market.

Only Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard have clocked in as relative winners, and there are lessons to be learned there as well.

Rummaging through the garbage
Every bearish call came with a thesis, so let's go over how it all panned out.

"Yahoo! has some long-term upside, but it will take a couple of years of growth to justify its current price tag," I wrote in dismissing Yahoo! back in June.

Microsoft had walked away from the buyout table, but investors were still clinging to the hope that Mr. Softy would have a change of heart. It seems silly in retrospect. Yahoo! was losing market share, laying off people, and posting uninspiring financials. I still think a hookup with Microsoft is possible, but at a low, low price.

"Starbucks is now fetching a rather lofty 22 times this year's profit expectations," I noted in tossing the java junkie. "That's rich for a company looking to post lower earnings this year."

Did you catch Starbucks' horrendous quarterly report earlier this month? Earnings took a massive hit and comps fell a sharp 8%. The upshot for Starbucks is that its stock price has come down faster than Wall Street's profit projections. However, now that Starbucks missed analyst expectations badly in each of the past two quarters, investors should wait for analysts to catch up -- or come down -- to the chain's reality before considering Starbucks a value play.

Despite last week's buzz over the debut of the BlackBerry Storm, betting against BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has been another great call. At the time, I did it just to get out of the way of the 3G iPhone. What's hurting BlackBerry now is the perception of RIM as a corporate accessory at a time when companies are scaling back.

Slamming eBay is a popular sport these days, especially by ex-Power Sellers. It hasn't been a bad financial pinata, either. Last month's quarterly report was a stinker, with its namesake marketplace stagnating. I'm still a fan of PayPal, but given the company's dreary holiday quarter outlook, it's hard to get excited about the company's flagship auction business.

I was also fashionably early in hitting the brakes on General Motors. This was well before the stunned automaker joined its stateside peers in panhandling before Congress. The stock is a lottery ticket at this point. It's obvious that the company can't compete with its current wage structure and in this crummy market for big-ticket purchases.

Redemption rings twice
This leaves us with Microsoft and HP, the two companies that have been crushed since being dissed, but have managed to beat the market.

What's the secret? Well, Microsoft is a cash-rich company, at a time when leveraged companies are way out of favor. The software titan is going to be challenged to grow, but investors know that it won't need to fly a corporate jet to Washington with a tin cup dangling from its fingers if things don't pan out.

HP is still in a tough industry, but the company's upbeat prognosis last week is the result of a turnaround CEO who is improving margins that were in a real funk when he took over. 

This doesn't mean that I'm drinking the Kool-Aid or even stirring the pitcher. Microsoft still has growth concerns in the near term. HP will eventually run out of room to squeeze more out of margins.

So I'll keep dumping stocks on a weekly basis. Even when the market bounces back, I have little reason to bury the unbecoming pessimism. There are always stocks worth shorting or unloading, even when it's no longer a barrel of bears.

Other headlines out of the trash can:

Starbucks and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value recommendations. Starbucks and eBay are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no problem with Dumpster-diving for unloved value, but he also appreciates that some stocks are tossed for a reason. Hdoes not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy named its dog Oscar.