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Ah… the satisfaction, the bragging rights, the monthly portfolio statements: Come on down, dear investor, collect your trophy – you’re a star. Bet on a fancy smart phone named for a fruit? A luxuriant forest operator in China? When you said infrastructure was sexy, others scoffed. You said ‘potash,’ they said ‘pshaw.’ Enjoy the last laugh, write David Parkinson and John Heinzl. (Neal Cresswell/Neal Cresswell 28th December 2009)
Ah… the satisfaction, the bragging rights, the monthly portfolio statements: Come on down, dear investor, collect your trophy – you’re a star. Bet on a fancy smart phone named for a fruit? A luxuriant forest operator in China? When you said infrastructure was sexy, others scoffed. You said ‘potash,’ they said ‘pshaw.’ Enjoy the last laugh, write David Parkinson and John Heinzl. (Neal Cresswell/Neal Cresswell 28th December 2009)

Investing

Dog stocks of the decade Add to ...

The view from the doghouse ain't pretty. A Pontiac Aztec in the drive, a folded New York Times on the foreclosed neighbour's roof. Who could have predicted a portfolio built on the pillars of U.S. capitalism - General Motors, Lehman, AIG, Kodak - could carry the scent of near-Armageddon? Whether you were seeking portfolio safety or stardom, they tossed you a bone …

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Celestica (-88%)







This IBM offspring started the decade as a market darling - until we found out that it was floating on a tenuous tech bubble built on wild fantasies, mad money and fairy dust. Thus Celestica fell back to Earth - and then started burrowing. A decade of questionable acquisitions, overseas stumbles, management changes and endless restructurings have gotten the company absolutely nowhere. Celestica hasn't turned an annual profit since 2000. Revenues have declined in each of the past three years. Maybe IBM should have used birth control. D.P.









Lehman Brothers (Delisted after filing for bankruptcy protection Sept. 15, 2008)







Gotta hand it to the boys at Lehman, they think big. Why stop at being a miserable investment, when you can also be the trigger for financial market near-Armageddon? Lehman's creative hyper-use of risky credit derivatives kept its shareholders in the pink and its trading executives in private jets, until it all collapsed like a house of cards. The debt troubles mounted, the bear raiders smelled blood, the stock fell into oblivion, and Lehman was forced into bankruptcy - instantly becoming the catalyst for a near-disastrous credit crisis. We'll be paying for Lehman's mistakes for years. D.P.







New York Times (-75%)







Back in my day, young feller, we used to have these things called newspapers (like the New York Times ). See, they'd print stories on paper, and a fresh-faced kid in a ball cap would deliver one to your doorstep, and you'd actually like it that way, and you'd pay for it. Then one day, this thing called the Internet came along, and everyone started posting news stories for free, and even the good newspapers started losing their audience and their advertisers and just generally bleeding red ink, and ... Hey! Stop tweetin' to your iPhone Facebook Google buddies! I'm talkin' to you! D.P.









Canfor (-39%)







When people say that Canada hasn't suffered from the residential real estate bust, they mustn't be talking about the people who work in sawmills. The collapse of the U.S. housing market sent new-home construction into a nosedive, and the price of lumber fell to less than a third of its mid-decade peak. As if things weren't bad enough, the surging Canadian dollar chopped into exports even further. Canfor , Canada's biggest lumber producer, comes out of the decade looking like it's been through a wood chipper. D.P.









AIG (-98%)







If you look up "moral hazard" in the dictionary, you'll probably find AIG's corporate logo next to it. The company, already stung by an accounting scandal earlier in the decade, went from massive global insurance conglomerate to massive welfare parasite. It messed up so badly in the credit derivatives market that it needed more than $180-billion (U.S.) in taxpayers' bailout money to stay afloat. All the while, its former CEO was fighting fraud allegations and its executives were struggling to explain why they were still rewarding themselves millions in salaries and bonuses. D.P.







General Motors (Delisted after filing for bankruptcy protection July 10, 2009







It was the car accident heard round the world: When General Motors skidded into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 1, 2009, it underscored both the depth of the financial crisis and the auto maker's death-spiral as it grappled with foreign competitors, selfish unions and consumers who no longer want to drive hulking SUVs - or anything else GM makes, apparently. But rest assured, GM (now government-owned) will rise again with a new lineup of fuel-efficient vehicles that will restore the auto maker to its former glory. Or not. J.H.







Eastman Kodak (-94%)







Smile, Kodak shareholders! Your stock lost more than 90 per cent of its value in the past decade. There's only one problem with being the world's largest producer of photographic film: Digital cameras don't use any film. And because Kodak was too slow to embrace the digital revolution, competitors such as Sony and Canon began eating its lunch. What's more, profits from digital cameras pale next to the fat margins on film. All of which explains why Kodak has been posting hefty losses, and its stock is locked in the darkroom and can't get out. J.H.







U.S. dollar (-27%)







How to ruin your currency in three easy steps: 1) Launch costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sending your deficit into the stratosphere; 2) Import more goods than you export, and finance the difference by selling bonds to the Chinese; 3) Bail out banks, auto makers and anyone else who shows up in Washington cap-in-hand. With U.S. government printing presses running overtime and the dollar's status as reserve currency in doubt, the greenback lost about 20 per cent against a basket of currencies during the decade. Soon even drug dealers won't want to own it. J.H.









Biovail (-57%)







What a downer of a decade for the pill purveyors at Biovail - and through no fault of their own, of course! When short sellers are ganging up on your stock and a truck carrying a load of Wellbutrin antidepressants crashes en route to the distributor - not that anyone is making excuses - how are you supposed to focus on running your business? Plus, all those regulators sniffing around are such a distraction. Warning: Side effects of owning this drug company have included headaches, large capital losses and a hefty dividend cut. J.H.









Bombardier (-68%)







First came the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which caused havoc in the airline industry. Then plane and train maker Bombardier was slow to develop a new regional jet, allowing Brazil's Embraer to steal Bomber's thunder. The good news is that shares of Bombardier have more than doubled from their March lows. The bad news? They'll have to rise another 400 per cent or so to get back to their high of more than $25 reached in 2000. Shareholders might want to keep those air sickness bags handy. J.H.





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