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Today's 3 Worst Stocks

By John Divine - Apr 5, 2013 at 7:11PM

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One ugly duckling managed to spoil it for an entire industry, while low bond yields hurt a major insurance provider

Down big earlier in the day, the S&P 500 Index (^GSPC 1.86%) regained some of its standing by the time of the closing bell, but it still wasn't quite enough: The index suffered its worst week of 2013 in the first week of April, losing 1% in the past five trading days. But even as the S&P had its fair share of losers Friday, three stocks in particular stood out as major laggards.

The victim of a severe double-whammy, F5 Networks (FFIV 1.35%) simply got pummeled today, falling 19%, after preliminary quarterly projections caused a flurry of analyst downgrades. In a true sign of just how awful its second quarter guidance was, the network technology provider even dragged down several of its competitors today, as Wall Street worried whether the numbers were an indication of the industry's fundamental health.

It's hard to outdo nearly 20% losses, but Aflac's (AFL 2.61%) 3.9% slide today was nothing to scoff at, either. Shares of the insurer slumped as bond yields declined further; investment capital flocked from equities to lower-risk bonds, driving 10-year Treasuries to a mere 1.7% rate. Low rates are especially harmful to insurance giants like Aflac, which can hold billions of dollars in low-risk securities as collateral for potential policy payouts. 

One of the aforementioned competitors limping into the weekend on F5 Networks' gloomy announcement was Juniper Networks (JNPR 2.56%), which closes out our list of underperformers after a 3.2% drop on Friday. Though investors will have to wait until April 24 to hear Juniper's official quarterly results, the market has no reason to think that the company will outperform after hearing of another stalled network communications business. Of course, just because F5 isn't coming along as planned doesn't necessarily mean that Juniper is struggling, but decreased spending by major service providers AT&T and Verizon is cause for legitimate concern for Juniper.

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Stocks Mentioned

S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$3,973.75 (1.86%) $72.39
Aflac Incorporated Stock Quote
Aflac Incorporated
AFL
$56.53 (2.61%) $1.44
Juniper Networks, Inc. Stock Quote
Juniper Networks, Inc.
JNPR
$29.61 (2.56%) $0.74
F5 Networks, Inc. Stock Quote
F5 Networks, Inc.
FFIV
$158.39 (1.35%) $2.11

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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