Tickers in this Article: WFMI, JEC, SUN, JCP, DF
The mid-capitalization space was a treacherous environment for some investors as the biggest losers in the S&P 500 for November 2009 made that list by disappointing investors' expectations for quarterly earnings.

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The Bottom Five Mid-Caps
Whole Foods Market
(Nasdaq:WFMI) hit investors with a double whammy in early November as the company lowered its outlook for 2010 and reported a pending conversion of a preferred issue that would lead to a dilution of its common stock. The new fiscal 2010 earnings outlook is now in a range from $1.05 to $1.10 per share, compared to the $1.11 estimated previously. Whole Foods Market also has an issue outstanding of Series A preferred stock held by an institutional investor. The company has decided to redeem this issue, which gives the holder the right to convert it into common stock. If this conversion is exercised, it will lead to a 29.7 million increase in shares outstanding. There are currently 140.5 million shares outstanding. The stock ended the month down 18%.

Jacobs Engineering Group (NYSE:JEC) also encountered earnings problems during its fiscal fourth quarter and ended the month down 20%. The company missed earnings estimates in the quarter and cut its outlook for the next fiscal year. It also saw a $1.5 billion drop year over year in its total backlog.

Sunoco (NYSE:SUN) reported a $312 million net loss or $2.67 per share in its Q3, which included a charge related to its Eagle Point refinery. The company is idling that facility and shifting production to two other refineries that it owns. The stock lost 16% in November.

J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) was down 15% in the month despite raising its outlook for earnings during the month. The department store matched analysts' estimates of 14 cents per share for the quarter and raised its outlook for 2010 to a range of 93 cents to $1.08 per share, compared to the previous range of 75 cents to 90 cents per share.

The stock jumped after the earnings report but then slid down the rest of the month as investors positioned themselves defensively in front of Black Friday. In early December, J.C. Penney reported a 5.8% drop in same-store sales for November, hinting perhaps that the struggles that the retail industry is enduring during the recession and retrenchment of the American consumer is not quite finished.

Dean Foods (NYSE:DF) also stumbled on earnings and finished November down 13%. The company beat estimates for the current quarter and raised its outlook, but perhaps not quite as high as investors wanted. The company expects full-year earnings per share to be $1.63, making this stock fairly cheap at only 10 times earnings.

Earnings Are Still Everything
The overall stock market floated slowly higher in November, stopped occasionally by investor paranoia over the strength of the economy and the fragility of the financial system. Some stocks lagged the index in November as they proved that earnings are still everything in the investment world. (Different funds invest in companies with different market caps. Find out which is right for you by reading Determining What Market Cap Suits Your Style.)

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