Why Noble Corp., Cliffs Natural Resources, and Frontier Communications Are Today’s 3 Worst Stocks

From energy and materials to tech and telecom, these three stocks were the worst in the S&P 500 on Tuesday

John Divine
John Divine
Apr 1, 2014 at 7:10PM

The S&P 500 Index (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) set a new closing record on Tuesday, tacking on 0.7% to finish at 1,885. But materials companies Noble Corp. (NYSE:NE) and Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE:CLF), along with tech player Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR), each saw their shares fall markedly. Despite their declines on Tuesday, intraday declines like these don't mean much to a company's long-term prospects, and at least two of today's three laggards could be big winners for the patient investor.

Shares of Noble, which is an offshore drilling contractor for oil and natural gas outfits, slumped 2.2% today, as the prices of oil and natural gas both declined. Energy prices tend to directly impact Noble stock, since the company can charge energy producers more to rent out its rigs when the commodities are more valuable. That's all well and good when prices are rising, but when both oil and natural gas fall around 2% in a single day as they did on Tuesday, shareholders are going to feel the pain. 

Iron ore, an essential component in steel

Another stock ending toward the bottom of the S&P, Cliffs Natural Resources shed 2.1% today. An iron ore and metallurgical coal miner, Cliffs Natural produces two of the vital components used in the production of steel. Herein lies a longer-term concern about the company: Asian demand for steel inputs has propped up global prices as China in particular has grown by leaps and bounds in the past decade. But China's government is taking a more cautious approach to growth, discouraging major construction and lending in recent months to prevent a possible real estate bubble. If this continues, it will likely hurt steel demand, and subsequently Cliffs will feel the pain as well.

Finally, Frontier Communications, the only tech company on today's list, lost 1.9% on Tuesday. A 2% setback isn't much to fret over after investors enjoyed a 14% gain in the last month. In fact, shares are up more than 40% in the last year, they offer a 7% dividend, and the company is uniquely positioned as a low-cost Internet provider. The stock briefly hit 52-week highs today, and as long as it's able to pay its hefty dividend to shareholders, I don't see a meaningful stumble happening anytime soon.