More often than not, investors focus on finding the world's next big stock -- and for good reason. Buying a stock before it's about to skyrocket can launch you from rags to riches. However, it's almost as important to steer clear of the debris on your way toward investing prowess. That's why we've identified three stocks you don't want to touch with a ten-foot pole.
Three of our top Fool contributors have scoured the entertainment industry for potential stinkers. Below, they've named the three worst stocks for 2011.
Rick Aristotle Munarriz, Fool contributor
NBC Universal's Jeffrey Zucker famously said that the entertainment industry was trading "analog dollars for digital dimes." We're seeing that now in the music industry. Movie studios, cable channels, and book publishers should be taking notes, because the same thing that's happening to Warner Music Group
Warner is my pan for 2011. Sure, it's already had a rocky past. The label behind Green Day and Jason Mraz recently posted a widening loss in fiscal 2010. Warner may have experienced a 7% uptick in digital music sales, but that isn't enough to offset the more significant slide in prerecorded CDs. In the end, revenue fell by 9% for the year.
The news won't get any better in the near term. Analysts see revenue falling in fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012, with steep deficits during both years. This isn't the kind of ship you turn around. Major labels are no longer necessary, now that the Internet has somewhat leveled the playing field. Today's stars are breaking out on YouTube, MySpace, and American Idol. Instead of getting signed to a major label, enterprising artists are finding ways to succeed on their own, with total artistic freedom.
Anders Bylund, Fool contributor
Choosing the worst entertainment stock for 2011 is tricky, because the industry is so full of dinosaurs just waiting to die under a digital onslaught. But I'm going with CBS, because it's the least progressive of all the Luddites.
If you have a Netflix
Or perhaps you don't have Netflix service -- yet. No worries, try the same thing on Hulu. Plenty of content from ABC, NBC, and Fox, but absolutely none from CBS. Why? Perhaps because the service is co-owned by the other three majors, but CBS wouldn't touch it with a six-foot garden rake. Streaming video aggregators have cooties.
CBS needs to get over this digital aversion if it wants to survive in 2011 and beyond. You just can't expect consumers to flock to scheduled programming en masse anymore. The living room is still the real battleground, but the fight goes on under a new set of rules. Directing prospective viewers to CBS's own streaming content library without intermediaries won't work unless you let Apple
David Lee Smith, Fool contributor
In the past, I was often surprised that Charter -- then one of the newer cable operators -- frequently led the pack in such key metrics as earnings margins and subscriber growth. After all, its newness made it difficult for the company to beneficially cluster its franchises like the other operators.
The mystery was eventually solved when some of its former executives were indicted in mid-decade for accounting fraud, largely involving inaccurate subscriber numbers. Early last year, the company filed for a prearranged Chapter 11 bankruptcy, from which it emerged in November.
Today, the nation's fourth-largest operator serves 4.7 million subscribers -- including yours truly -- in 25 states. As a Charter customer with prior service from Time Warner Cable
The company, whose largest shareholder is Microsoft
Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Anders Bylund owns shares of Netflix, but none of the other Fools in this article hold any financial position in the companies mentioned. 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.