Best and worst stocks of 2007

Wall Street ended a rough year with modest gains. These are the stocks and sectors that came out ahead - and far behind.

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By Alexandra Twin, senior writer

How should CEOs of Wall Street firms be held accountable for subprime writedowns?
  • They should lose their jobs
  • They should lose their bonuses
  • They are not to blame
  • Donít know

NEW YORK ( -- Wall Street squeaked out a gain in 2007 after what has been a particularly tough year. And that's no thanks to the bank and homebuilding stocks, which tanked in the housing and credit market fallout.

The Dow Jones Industrial average (INDU) finished the year over 6 percent higher. The broader S&P 500 index (SPX.X) ended 4 percent higher, while the tech-fueled Nasdaq composite (COMPX) gained 9.8 percent.

Wall Street can attribute its gains this year to, Apple and other select techs. A few far less celebrated sectors also played a role: coal, oil and gas suppliers, as well as the makers of the gear to access and process those raw materials.

No matter how scary the housing market collapse and credit market crisis have become, the global demand for raw materials and the machinery it requires keeps chugging along. Crude oil prices at $90 a barrel and gold prices at over $800 an ounce make that clear.

National Oilwell Varco (NOV, Fortune 500), an oil and gas driller, was the biggest S&P 500 stock gainer of the year, up 128 percent; Consol Energy (CNX), a coal and gas producer, rose 123 percent; and Hess (HES, Fortune 500) rose 103 percent, to name a few. (See chart).

Gold and silver miners had a good year too, rising in correlation with the price of the raw commodity.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) (up 133 percent), (AMZN, Fortune 500) (up 135 percent) and a few other tech names weathered the subprime storm too, in part simply because their businesses have nothing to do with housing. Apple had a great year, with the launch of the iPhone and introduction of a new batch of iPod's. Amazon saw strong sales and earnings growth, and rolled out its headline-grabbing e-book reader Kindle.

But these were some of the biggest winners in an otherwise tough period on Wall Street that saw most of the financial and housing market stocks get pummeled. These stock trends are likely to continue into the new year, market analysts argue, as investors remain wary amid the latest disclosures from the financial sector and monetary policy moves from the Federal Reserve.

Here is a breakdown of the current trouble spots for the market:


At some point, select bank and homebuilding stocks will become battered enough to provide a good buying opportunity. But that moment is clearly not now. On Wednesday, Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) said it underestimated its quarterly hit from subprime losses by about $5.7 billion.

Morgan Stanley is down 35 percent year-to-date. Its competitors have had it even worse. Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) is down 47 percent and Bear Stearns (BSC, Fortune 500) is down 46 percent.

E*Trade Financial (ETFC) lost 84 percent, and was the biggest S&P 500 stock loser of the year. Mortgage lender Countrywide Financial (CFC, Fortune 500) was the second worst performer of the year, having slumped 80 percent.


Homebuilder sentiment stayed at a record low for the third month in a row. New home construction slumped last month and weekly mortgage applications tanked. And that was just the housing market news released this week.

No stock sector has been hit harder this year, with shares off 60 percent. Builder Hovnanian (HOV, Fortune 500) joined the fray Wednesday, saying its fourth-quarter losses quadrupled versus a year ago.

Year-to-date, the biggest homebuilder decliners were Pulte Homes (PHM, Fortune 500), down 68 percent, Lennar (LEN, Fortune 500), down 67 percent and KB Home (KBH, Fortune 500), down 58 percent.


The long-rumored slowdown of the consumer could finally be here, judging from the latest readings of the crucial holiday sales period. Still, the broad November retail sales report did show some strength - mostly thanks to heavy discounting.

Clothing retailers suffered the most in 2007, including Liz Claiborne (LIZ, Fortune 500), down 53 percent, Jones Apparel (JNY, Fortune 500), down 52 percent, Dillard's (DDS, Fortune 500), down 46 percent and JC Penney (JCP, Fortune 500) down 43 percent.

Elsewhere in the market, fertilizer-producer Monsanto (MON, Fortune 500), up 113 percent, and lawnmower maker Deere & Company (DE, Fortune 500), up 94 percent, bucked the negative trend.

And apparently beer really is recession proof: Molson Coors Brewing (TAP, Fortune 500) jumped 34 percent year-to-date. To top of page

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