The worst stocks of 2018

The stock market had a miserable 2018, so it’s no surprise some companies are hoping to forget this year.

Of the 505 companies in the S&P 500, 345 fell in 2018. That’s more than two-thirds — not surprising when the S&P 500 is down 7%, on its way to the worst year since the Great Recession.

Companies from Activision Blizzard to Zions Bank and dozens of companies in between posted big losses. Businesses as diverse as General Electric and General Mills were way down in 2018.

And in last place…

Coty (COTY) was the worst performer in 2018, dropping 67%. The beauty and makeup supplier spent $12 billion to merge with a number of Procter & Gamble’s beauty businesses, like CoverGirl. But it struggled under weak demand.

General Electric (GE) was the second worst stock this year. It fell 57% to below $10 a share and lost its vaunted spot on the Dow.

The once-great conglomerate is racing to break itself apart to pay down debt caused by poorly timed acquisitions. GE replaced CEO John Flannery on October 1 with Larry Culp, a manufacturing executive.

Retail nightmare

Victoria’s Secret owner L Brands (LB) was the fourth worst stock, falling 59%. Victoria’s Secret CEO Jan Singer resigned in November amid a sales slump and competition from young companies challenging the brand’s grip on the lingerie industry.

Victoria’s Secret has been struggling to keep up with changing consumer tastes. Flashy fashion shows, push-up bras and celebrity models aren’t drawing women. Instead, women are clamoring for products with a better fit. Online stores like ThirdLove, Lively and True & Co. are using tech and harnessing data to offer custom sizes and new products.

Sales at Victoria’s Secret stores that have been open for at least a year dropped 6% last quarter. Victoria’s Secret has close to 1,000 stores in the United States, many of them tied to struggling malls.

HanesBrands (HBI), the parent of Hanes and Champion, was another struggling brand. It slid nearly 42%, in part because of a break with Target.

For 15 years, Target (TGT) sold C9 by Champion, a line of men’s, women’s and children’s activewear clothing and shoes. But Target said over the summer that it won’t renew its contract for the C9 line when the deal expires in early 2020.

Target was HanesBrands’ second largest buyer overall behind Walmart, accounting for 13% of the company’s sales last year.

Other big losers

Wynn Resorts (WYNN) fell 42%. Founder Steve Wynn stepped down as the CEO of Wynn in February after allegations of sexual misconduct pressured the billionaire casino mogul and sent the company’s stock tumbling.

Packaged food stocks also tumbled in 2018.

KraftHeinz (KHC) and Conagra Brands (CAG) dropped 44%, while General Mills (GIS) fell 34%. All three companies have faced sluggish demand for some of their older food brands. Consumers are increasingly flocking to more natural and organic products.

General Mills, known for Cheerios, Trix and Yoplait, is hoping pet food will help it fight lagging cereal and snack sales.

The company bought Blue Buffalo dog food earlier in the year and recently said that it plans to double distribution.

“I think it’s a huge opportunity for us,” CEO Jeff Harmening told investors earlier this month about Blue Buffalo.

 

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