The Fortune 500’s biggest stock market losers

Courtesy of Peabody Energy

Just because a company succeeded in making the Fortune 500 does not mean it rewarded its shareholders—in fact, every year, at least a handful of corporations fail miserably in the stock returns department. While the average Fortune 500 stock returned 14.2% in 2014 (the year on which the new list is based), a handful of companies lost more than a third of their market value throughout the year—and some lost more than half.

Falling energy and commodities prices were a common theme among the worst-performing stocks on this year’s list. Still, this year’s companies didn’t do quite as poorly as the ones on the previous edition. The previous worst performer, NII Holdings, lost more than 61% in 2013. (NII fell off the Fortune 500 this year.)

Of course, stock performance does not factor at all in a company’s Fortune 500 ranking, which lists the largest U.S. companies in terms of their revenues. It does, however, help to determine a company’s market value. To see this year’s list ranked by that metric, go to our new, sortable Fortune 500 database and filter by “Mkt Value.”

Want to see which Fortune 500 stocks lost the most money last year? Read on for our list of biggest loser stocks—in order from worst to just really bad.

1. Peabody Energy


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -59.4%

YTD 2015 RETURN: -67.9%

Peabody Energy (BTU) has been one of the worst-performing stocks in the Fortune 500 for the last few years, trading at just $3 or so now, down from its peak of $73 in 2011. The coal miner has been hurt as the world has turned to more environmentally-friendly energy sources such as natural gas—a trend that has accelerated in the last few years as gas prices have come down substantially due to surging supply from the U.S. fracking boom.

While Peabody was only down about 10% at the end of May 2014, the stock got crushed as the government proposed to reduce carbon emissions (stemming from fossil fuels like coal), which would burn up even more of Peabody's bottom line. Investors increasingly speculate that coal producers could go bankrupt altogether.

Peabody’s problems have only expanded so far in 2015: Forecasting greater losses than originally anticipated, the company reduced its dividend, laid off workers and even cut the salaries of its top executives temporarily in a desperate attempt to keep the company afloat. It also named a new CEO who took over in May, but the change did little to appease investors, who have continued to sell the stock.

2. MRC Global


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -53%

YTD 2015 RETURN: 2.5%

Last year started out poorly for MRC Global  (MRC), as its stock fell 14% after it missed Wall Street’s earnings expectations in the last quarter of 2013. It got worse later in the year, when the price of oil began sliding. Because energy producers cut back on drilling and production when oil is cheap (and less profitable for them), investors were concerned that they would also stop ordering as many of MRC’s pipes, which are used to pump and transport crude. Indeed, as the oil price declined further in late 2014, MRC’s shares fell with it. While the company originally said in its earnings calls last year that it had not yet seen a cutback in demand for its products, its CEO said earlier this year that the sustained reduction in energy prices would make 2015 “a challenging year for our company”—so it seems the selloff may have been justified.

3. General Cable


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -47.5%

YTD 2015 RETURN: 37.9%

Though the market for say, iPhone cords might seem to be booming, the story is different for the kind of industrial wires that General Cable (BGC) makes. Worldwide demand for the cables is slowing worldwide due to reduced investment in construction and power plant projects in emerging markets. The fall in global commodity prices has also hurt the company: Cheaper oil, for one, means that offshore drillers have less need for General Cable’s heavy-duty products. Plus, because the company’s wires are made of metal, the prices it can sell them for are also tied to the market price of copper and aluminum, which have fallen steeply since 2011. As General Cable’s stock price plummeted last year, the company announced job cuts for 7% of its workforce as part of an ongoing restructuring. But its troubles didn’t end there. To top off its challenges, the company announced in September that it was looking into certain eyebrow-raising payments made by its employees to various foreign government officials as they could have constituted illegal bribes. General Cable’s board of directors apparently thinks a change at the helm will help: The company just announced in early June that a new CEO will take over July 1, and the stock has so far responded positively.

4. KBR

A KBR Inc. office stands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -46.1%

YTD 2015 RETURN: 21.2%

Revenues have declined for five years straight (since 2009) at KBR (KBR), which provides engineering and construction services to the oil and gas industry as well as to governments. But the defense contractor experienced a double whammy in 2014 between falling oil prices (triggering cutbacks on energy projects) and the substantial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, reducing the need for the company’s services there. The combination resulted in a net loss of nearly $1.3 billion for KBR in 2014, after the company squeaked by with a $75 million profit the year before. (KBR is one of only nine member's of the Fortune 500's billion-dollar losers club this year.) The company has lately attempted a turnaround: It got a new CEO last June, and announced in December that it would restructure its business, getting rid of “non-strategic” segments to focus on its hydrocarbons and international government services divisions.

5. Genworth Financial


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -45.3%

YTD 2015 RETURN: -6.7%

Genworth Financial (GNW), which provides life and long-term care insurance, screwed up a while back when it began selling policies to cover medical expenses in old age: It did not charge nearly enough for them. Now that those policyholders have reached the age when they actually need that insurance, Genworth has had to shell out a lot more than it expected to pay those claims—a result of both the increased cost of health care and the fact that people are living a lot longer in general. So when the insurer disclosed in November that it was taking a $345 million hit on its balance sheet in order to cover its additional claim liabilities—contributing to a $760 million loss for the year—Genworth’s shares dropped 38% in a single day. Apparently, it wasn’t just Genworth who underestimated the impact of rising long-term care costs, but also analysts and investors. Meanwhile, S&P slashed Genworth’s credit rating to junk, and the stock has fallen modestly so far in 2015.

6. Avon Products


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -44.4%

YTD 2015 RETURN: -26.7%

The cosmetics company, which has long relied on door-to-door sales by its “Avon Ladies,” has been struggling for years as people buy more of their makeup and beauty products online, or at lower-priced retail stores. Its sales continued falling at double-digit rates in 2014, and its financial results came in even lower than analysts’ expectations. The stock is at its lowest point in nearly 20 years. While the company has reportedly put itself up for sale, so far no suitor has agreed to a deal, though a fake takeover bid in May 2015 briefly sent Avon’s (AVP) shares surging 20% before the offer was revealed as a hoax (and the shares promptly resumed their downward trend).

7. Freeport-McMoRan



2014 TOTAL RETURN: -35.7%

YTD 2015 RETURN: -10.4%

Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) has suffered more pain from collapsing commodity prices than most other companies. The gold and copper miner, which also drills for oil and gas, has seen its bottom line dry up as the price of each of those natural resources has fallen sharply recently. The company reported a $1.3 billion loss for 2014, a big swing into negative territory following a nearly $2.7 billion net profit the year before. And Freeport’s stock has fallen further in 2015, especially since it cut its dividend by 84% in March.

8. Terex


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -33.2%

YTD 2015 RETURN: -11.4%

Lower commodity prices in 2014—both of precious metals as well as oil and gas—crushed the stocks of many companies that either produce those products or have clients who do. Terex (TEX), which makes heavy equipment used on oil rigs and in mines, fell into this latter category. Terex’s crane sales declined 7.5% in 2014, falling most steeply in the latter half of the year—when oil prices were collapsing—and coming in below the company’s own forecasts. The company said the decreases were “primarily related to lower commodity driven demand.” Also suffering from the strength of the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies, which contributed to Terex’s reduction in sales, the company reduced its earnings expectations in September by about 10%.

9. Mattel

A wall of Barbie dolls.


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -32.1%

YTD 2015 RETURN: -11.1%

Traditional toy sales have been falling as American children turn to video games and digital gadgets ("Dad, can I use your iPad?"), and Mattel (MAT), the maker of Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels and Barbie, has been struggling as a result. Barbie sales dropped for the third year in a row in 2014, falling 16%, nearly three times as much as the decline the previous year. Mattel’s stock fell throughout the year as the company continued to report bad news, and investors increasingly worried that the classic American dolls and toys may go the way of the Polaroid camera.

10. Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae Volunteers build and repair garden and landscaping for the Salvation Army of Alexandria along with Rebuilding Together. The create an outdoor space and community gardens for families living in transitional housing units to enjoy,


2014 TOTAL RETURN: -31.7%

YTD 2015 RETURN: 18.3%

It was about time Fannie Mae (FNMA) came down to earth a bit: It was the Fortune 500’s top stock on last year’s list. That stellar performance was a remarkable feat considering the government-sponsored mortgage company was still repaying its federal bailout from the recession, only settling its tab in 2014—and the stock’s rise was mostly due to the fact that the shares had begun 2013 trading for mere pennies. But once the stock was worth a few bucks, investors stopped regarding it as so dirt cheap—especially when lawmakers announced their intentions to reform the mortgage system and eliminate federal agencies like Fannie altogether, which sent the stock down 31% on a single day in March 2014. This year, however, Fannie’s shares have risen more than 18% already.

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