BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- International crises, especially the eurozone's debt quagmire, are holding sway on investor sentiment this year. Despite robust corporate earnings in the third quarter, poor performances by members of the benchmark S&P 500 Index predominate, as 319 companies are in the loss column so far in 2011.
The 10 worst companies have fallen by 57% to 69% this year, an eerily similar performance to 2008, when the financial tsunami gutted the U.S. economy and drove down the average stock on the S&P 500 by almost 40%.
The S&P index, which tracks the performance of the 500 largest U.S. stocks, is down 6% this year, even after an encouraging 11% rally in October, the benchmark's best showing since 1991. And over the past 12 months, the index has a mere 0.4% to show for its efforts, as it drags itself to a close for 2012.Howard Silverblatt, a senior index analyst at Standard & Poor's, said in an interview that the financials sector has been hardest hit this year, losing 25% through Nov. 22, followed by materials, with a 15% decline. Industrials are down 11%. Silverblatt notes that financials are off 66% from their high on Oct. 9, 2007, with the broader S&P 500 down 24% since then. "Financials are still weighing down large-caps as the sector reacted to every event" both domestically and internationally, said Silverblatt, in a research note. He said the recent bankruptcy of brokerage firm MF Global (MF) may have an even larger impact on major banks because it will prompt calls for stronger regulations. The list of the 20 worst performers is dominated by financial-services players. Those just out of the top 10 include Genworth Financial (GNW), Janus Capital (JNS), Morgan Stanley (MS) and Citigroup (C - Get Report), all down 48% or more on the year. Surprisingly, many of the worst-performing stocks have garnered positive ratings from analysts, who apparently believe the worst is behind them. In order of bad to worst, here are the 10 poorest-performing stocks in the S&P 500 Index this year: