10 Worst-Performing S&P 500 Stocks in January

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The 10 worst performers in the S&P 500 in January include companies that range from a chicken farmer, to a video-game maker, to the mighty Internet search engine Google (GOOG).

The bottom 10 managed to post losses ranging from 8.5% to 21%, despite the benchmark index's 4.4% gain in January and lots of positive economic news.

The biggest boost for stocks has been the Federal Reserve's pledge to keep interest rates low to support the economy, which has shown some signs of a revival. At the same time, Europe seems to be getting closer to solving its debt woes.

But these losers all seem to have individualized circumstances that contributed to their slide, and overarching economic issues mattered little.

Lower natural gas prices hurt two, another was dented by an accounting gaffe, while earnings misses resulted in share-price declines for most.

In order of least worst to worst, here are the 10 poorest-performing stocks in the S&P 500 Index in January:

10. Centerpoint Energy ( CNP)

Performance: down 8.5%

Company profile: CenterPoint Energy is a regulated, electric transmission and distribution utility operating in the Houston area. The company also operates regulated natural gas distribution utilities in six states.

Investor takeaway: The stock gained 17% last year, so there could be some profit-taking as well as some impact from lower natural gas prices.

9. Tyson Foods ( TSN)

Performance: down 8.5%

Company profile: Tyson Foods manufactures and distributes raw and value-added chicken, beef and pork products.

Investor takeaway: Its shares were up 9% last year. S&P found five "buys," three "buy/holds" and nine "holds" in its survey of analysts. On Jan. 23, the trading volume was about double that of average, with no news that might have prompted that. Curiously, late in the month a report said that corn prices should be lower this year, and that's the company's highest input cost, so share prices should have risen.

8. WPX Energy ( WPX)

Performance: down 8.6%

Company profile: WPX Energy is an independent producer of oil and gas with acreage in Colorado, North Dakota and the Marcellus shale area of Pennsylvania.

Investor takeaway: Energy companies such as WPX, with projects in the oil shale regions of the U.S., saw a rash of deal making last year that pushed up share prices for companies that owned drilling rights in those areas, so there may have been some profit-taking. Low natural gas prices are also working against its projected profitability, impacting share values.

7. International Game Technology ( IGT)

Performance: down 9%

Company profile: International Game Technology designs and manufactures computerized gaming equipment, network systems, and licensing and services for the casino gaming industry.

Investor takeaway: A week ago, the company reported that its net income fell 33% in its most recent quarter, dragged down by fewer new North American casino openings. The results missed analysts' expectations, contributing to a sell-off.

6. Google ( GOOG)

Performance: down 10%

Company profile: Google manages an Internet search engine that generates revenue when users click or view advertising related to their searches. This activity generates more than 80% of revenue.

Investor takeaway: On Jan. 20, Google released disappointing fourth-quarter earnings. S&P Capital IQ said the results were weaker than expected, and reiterated its "hold" rating. S&P has a $700 price target on it, a 20% premium. In response to the quarterly results, JPMorgan cut its price target and reiterated its "overweight" rating.

5. Electronic Arts ( EA)

Performance: down 12%

Company profile: Electronic Arts is a leading publisher and developer of video games for consoles, PCs and handheld devices. Its specialty is sports games.

Investor takeaway: Shares were hurt at mid-month, when Brean Murray Carret & Co. cut its price target on the stock to $22 from $28, citing concerns about the recently released online multi-player game "Star Wars: The Old Republic."

4. Supervalu ( SVU)

Performance: down 14%

Company profile: Supervalu operates in two segments: retail grocery stores and supply chain services. The company's grocery stores account for roughly three-quarters of sales and operating profits.

Investor takeaway: In mid-January, the company reported its fiscal quarter ending in November, which was disappointing given its earnings of 24 cents per share, 3 cents below analysts' consensus estimates. And its same-store sales fell 2.9%. S&P Capital IQ lowered its 12-month target price by $1 to $8.

3. Cabot Oil & Gas ( COG)

Performance: down 15%

Company profile: Cabot is an independent oil and gas producer with operations primarily in Appalachia, the Gulf Coast, the Mid-Continent and the Rockies.

Investor takeaway: This decline is likely a short-term correction as its shares are still up 71% since the beginning of last year. There may have been some froth in prices due to expectations of its 2-for-1 share-price split announced early in January. The company also raised its annual cash dividend by 33% to 16 cents per share from 12 cents. Low natural gas prices also hurt performance, and hence share price expectations.

2. Frontier Communications ( FTR)

Performance: down 16.5% -- and 56% since the beginning of last year.

Company profile: Frontier Communications serves about 5.6 million phone lines and 1.7 million high-speed Internet access customers across 27 states.

Investor takeaway: Revenue dropped 8% year-over-year in 2011, marking the third-straight quarter of accelerating declines. The firm tripled in size in 2010 via the acquisition of Verizon's ( VZ) fixed-line operations in 14 states. It took on a lot of debt to finance that deal.

1. R.R. Donnelley & Sons ( RRD)

Performance: down 21% -- it's fallen 35% since the beginning of 2011.

Company profile: R.R. Donnelley is a global provider of printing and media services for large corporate customers. The firm has diversified printing operations in magazines, newspaper inserts, forms and labels

Investor takeaway: The shares were hammered in mid-January when the printing company said it was unable to provide GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) operating earnings estimates for fiscal 2011. That's because it said it was still determining "a pension curtailment gain, acquisition-related expenses and other items." Nevertheless, S&P has its shares rated "buy," with four stars out of a possible five.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 10 Worst-Performing S&P 500 Stocks in January portfolio on Stockpickr.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

More from Investing

Dow Futures Tank as Trade War Fears Grip Wall Street

Dow Futures Tank as Trade War Fears Grip Wall Street

Why GE's Stock Has Fallen 9% in the Last 30 Days

Why GE's Stock Has Fallen 9% in the Last 30 Days

Billionaire Investor Tim Draper Explains Why Bitcoin Will Hit $250,000 in 2022

Billionaire Investor Tim Draper Explains Why Bitcoin Will Hit $250,000 in 2022

Worries About a Trade War Could Throw Wrench Into the Tech Stock Rally

Worries About a Trade War Could Throw Wrench Into the Tech Stock Rally

5 Stock Picks Under $10 for Millennials

5 Stock Picks Under $10 for Millennials