All in all, 2010's been a pretty good year, seeing a pretty fair share of Wall Street winners. But there were also plenty of disappointments, with a number of companies ending the year in the red. These downtrodden stocks may not look so hot to investors right now -- but don't be so quick to count them out ...

Time after time, companies have risen from the ashes to stage dramatic rebounds. Just look at footwear maker Steve Madden: They bounced back from a securities fraud scandal to see profits increase by over 20% in each of the past nine quarters. Or automaker General Motors, pulling a complete 180 from where it was circa 2009 bailout. Investors who bought these stocks cheap were able to reap tremendous rewards.

The gain potential in an underdog is great -- but only if the stock makes a comeback. And there's always a good chance that an ailing stock will never fully recover. While there are no guarantees, there are a few things you can look for in a company profile: efforts to makeover its brands, the introduction of quality products, lower expenses, decision-making restructuring.

And if their stocks are already starting to see a turnaround, it might be a good sign of things to come.

Here's a list of stocks that had negative returns over the last year, but saw sharp rebounds over the last six months. These are the rebound kids of 2010 -- will these companies continue their rally in 2011? What do you think? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

Company

Performance Over Last Year

Performance Over Last 6 Months

AirMedia Group (Nasdaq: AMCN)

-17.37%

68.19%

Polymet Mining (NYSE: PLM)

-15.20%

52.52%

Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG)

-9.72%

49.39%

Terra Nitrogen Company (NYSE: TNH)

-1.73%

44.24%

DragonWave (Nasdaq: DRWI)

-3.18%

41.71%

Rentech (NYSE: RTK)

-11.04%

40.78%

Exelixis (Nasdaq: EXEL)

-10.98%

40.12%

Hornbeck Offshore Services (NYSE: HOS)

-4.73%

38.77%

BP (NYSE: BP)

-20.59%

38.31%

Interactive Chart: Press Play to see how analyst ratings have changed for all the stocks mentioned below.


Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen and Alicia Sellitti do not own shares of any companies mentioned.

Exelixis is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. The Fool owns shares of Exelixis and Transocean. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.