DE­SPITE RALLY, BEAR HAS AGRIP ON­MANY STOCKS

Chicago Sun-Times - - MONEY - Matt Krantz

It’s tempt­ing to get ex­cited about the mar­ket’s re­cent rally. But as im­pres­sive as the bounce has been, it is far from re­pair­ing some of the worst dam­age.

There are still 198 com­pa­nies in the Stan­dard & Poor’s 500, or 40%, mired in bear mar­kets, ac­cord­ing to a USA TO­DAY anal­y­sis of data from S& P Global Mar­ket In­tel­li­gence. A bear mar­ket is un­of­fi­cially de­fined as a de­cline of 20% or more from the re­cent high. The fact so many stocks are still so badly beaten — de­spite the mar­ket’s im­pres­sive 9% rally from the lows this year— high­lights just how­much pain re­mains.

“We’ve had a good rally, but lots of stocks still are down,” says Andy Brooks, trader at T. Rowe Price. “We’re still re­cov­er­ing in many sec­tors.”

In­vestors are hope­ful the mar­ket’s bounce from the Feb. 11 lows this year sig­nals the end of the worst. Roughly $ 1.6 tril­lion in mar­ket value has been re­stored to the port­fo­lios of in­vestors in the S& P 500, which is a good start, but stocks are still down nearly $ 2.2 tril­lion from the highs last year.

Given the bru­tal de­cline in the price of oil, it’s not sur­pris­ing to see that many of the most badly dam­aged stocks are en­ergy firms.

The three stocks still down the most from their highs, all by about 70%, are each en­ergy com­pa­nies in­clud­ing South­west­ern En­ergy, Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy and Wil­liams. Th­ese stocks are still down this much de­spite some im­pres­sive gains from the Fe­bru­ary lows.

Ch­e­sa­peake, for in­stance, is up 189% from Feb. 11, much of that com­ing in the past three trad­ing ses­sions af­ter its for­mer CEO died in a car crash a day af­ter be­ing in­dicted by a fed­eral grand jury.

But it’s not just small en­ergy firms that are still mired in a bear.

Ap­ple shares are down 23.8% from their high.

And Wal­mart has dropped 20.4% from its high, mak­ing it one of the worst stocks owned by War­ren Buf­fett.

“We’ll see th­ese stocks down a lot re­cover slowly, maybe not all the way back, but we’re def­i­nitely mak­ing the move higher,” Brooks says.

ERIK S. LESSER, EURO­PEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Wal­mart has fallen 20.4% from its high, while Ap­ple is down 23.8% from its high.

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