Tickers in this Article: PCS, AMD, AIG, MOT, KLAC, C, INTC
Most equity investors lost money in January 2010, but some really lost money. The market rally that began in March 2009 appeared to stall out and then reverse this past month. Find out which investors were left holding the bag.

IN PICTURES: 7 Forehead-Slapping Stock Blunders

The S&P 500 broke through key support levels during the month, and ended down about 4%. Many stocks were pushed down much more than the index, as many investors chose to flee rather than fight the reversal of a trend. (Understanding this key concept can drastically improve your short-term investing strategy. For more information, see Support & Resistance Basics.)

MetroPCS Communications (NYSE:PCS) was the worst performer, shedding 27% in January. The stock has been caught in a vicious technical downtrend all year, fed recently by the widening price war in the wireless industry. Although this price war is in the high end of the market, it is putting pressure on all participants.

Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE:AMD) had a great 2009, topped off with a huge legal settlement from rival Intel (Nasdaq:INTC), but the stock fell 23% in January 2010. This decline occurred despite a fairly solid earnings report during the month. Advanced Micro Devices reported its first profit in three years, helped mostly by the funds received from Intel, and beat analyst estimates.

American International Group (NYSE:AIG) has been drifting down slowly the last few months, as the stock remains the favorite plaything of day traders, and the favorite whipping boy of politicians on both sides of the aisle. Investors seemed unable to wait until earnings are released to condemn the stock, and drove it down 23% during the month.

KLA Tencor (Nasdaq:KLAC) got close to a 52-week high early in January, but then failed to break out and went into a near free fall for the rest of the month, ending down 22%. The company reported a fiscal second quarter profit of 28 cents per share, excluding special items, beating the Street by a penny. Apparently, this was not enough for investors. The group was also pushed down during the month by an industry downgrade by an analyst at Citgroup (NYSE:C). KLA Tencor was cut from hold to sell.

Motorola (NYSE:MOT) was down 21% in January, despite reporting a fourth quarter net income of $ 142 million, or 6 cents per share. The company had good sales of its smart phones during the quarter, but its forecast for Q1 2010 sales of the Android are far below what investors had been hoping.

The Bottom Line
Investors who stood their ground and held on during January 2010 suffered slight portfolio losses during the month, while others who held these five losers suffered far worse. They need to decide quickly if these losses will continue in February. (Stocks sometimes thwart the efficient market theory by showing some very unusual patterns. To learn more, refer to Making Sense Of Market Anomalies.)

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