The Worst Stocks Of 2009

By Eric Fox | January 05, 2010 AAA

It should come as no surprise to investors that the list of the worst performing stocks in the S&P 500 in 2009 were dominated by financials, as that sector continues to have a tough time navigating the financial crisis and recession. Are there any investment opportunities among the stocks on this list?

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Bottom of the List
The worst performing stock in the S&P 500 in 2009 was Marshall & Isley Corp (NYSE:MI), a financial services company that is headquartered in Wisconsin, but also has operations in Florida and Arizona.

Marshall & Isley Corp got caught up in the residential housing frenzy, and at the peak of the market had nearly 25% of its loans in the construction and development category. The bank has since started to work through its problems, and saw a peak in non-performing loans of $2.4 billion in the second quarter of 2009. This wasn't enough for the market, however, and the stock ended 2009 down 60%.

Huntington Bancshares (Nasdaq:HBAN) lost 52% in 2009, as investors pounded this regional bank located in Ohio. The bank saw its non performing assets as a percentage of all loans rise steadily in 2009, from 3.97% at the end of 2008, to 6.26% as of September 30, 2009. Despite this carnage, Huntington Bancshares boosted its capital ratios during the year and now has a tangible common equity to assets ratio of 6.46%.

From the Headlines
Citigroup
(NYSE:C) needs no introduction to investors, as what was once the largest bank in the U.S. has spent much of 2009 dominating the headlines, ranging from government bailouts to criticism over bonuses paid to employees. The last straw was the dilution when the bank went to the markets to raise equity to redeem the preferred stock held by the U.S. treasury. Citigroup lost 51% of its value in 2009.

MetroPCS Communications (NYSE:PCS) is the only non-financial stock on the list, and this stock fell 49% in 2009. The company saw a slow but steady decline during 2009, accelerated by a sharp fall in August, 2009 when it reported that second quarter of 2009 subscriber growth was only one third of what analysts were expecting. There was also concern about a price war brewing in the prepaid wireless market.

Zions Bancorp (Nasdaq:ZION) fell 48% in 2009. The bank also is having credit quality problems like most of its peers, and has seen non-performing assets as a percentage of total loans move steadily higher all year.

The Bottom Line
As expected, the financial sector was well represented on the list of worst performing stocks in the S&P 500 in 2009. The question that investors now face is, will any of these stocks be on the best performing list 12 months from now? (For more, see The 9 Worst Career Choices Right Now.)

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