(To update to note that Bank of America shares are down today on news that the Federal Reserve may force big banks to raise capital base.)
BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Burned-out investors have thrown in the towel as the stock market staggers toward the finish line in danger of failing to reach breakeven.
International crises, especially the eurozone's debt quagmire, have held sway on U.S. investors' outlook all year, contributing to record volatility.
And despite some encouraging economic signs America recently, including near-record third-quarter earnings, 288 of the S&P 500 Index companies are in the loss column. The index is down 1.4%.Nowhere is the dismal market performance more apparent than on the list of the 10 worst stocks of 2011, which have lost anywhere from 53% to 74%. Working against some of these companies has been the fear factor, as investors are seeking safe, high-quality, dividend-paying stocks, and turning their backs on anything that's speculative. There's no real common denominator to this sad lot, as it includes stocks from many different sectors, ranging from steel and coal companies to solar-panel makers to two clunkers from the beleaguered financial sector. Some of these companies will survive, others may be bought out by competitors, but only one or two are worth consideration from bottom-feeding investors. "It looks like some investors are just selling out and waiting for the New Year to see how the land lies," said Cameron Brandt, global research director at mutual-fund tracker EPFR. In order of least-worst to worst, here are the 10 poorest-performing stocks in the S&P 500 Index this year: