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Below we highlight the best and worst performing S&P 500 stocks for 2008 based on the components of the index as of the start of 2008. Just how bad a year was it? Besides the fact that the S&P 500 did not have one day where the index closed higher than its 2007 close, there were also only 29 stocks in the index that either finished the year in positive territory or stopped trading (due to an acquisition) at a level that was up for the year. The first table below highlights the fifteen worst performing stocks during the year. It should come as little surprise that all but one of these names (Circuit City) came from the Financial/Real Estate sector.

Worst Stocks 2008

It doesn't take long to find the list of winners in 2008, and that's because there were barely any of them. And many of those that were up were involved in takeovers, as five of the fifteen best performing stocks in the S&P 500 were acquired during the year. Additionally, another two (UST and ROH) are currently involved in pending deals. Unfortunately for investors, many of the top performing stocks in 2008 were barely up by double digits in percentage terms, while most of the worst performers were down over 90%. Let's hope at this time next year, it's as hard to find losers as it was hard to find winners this year.

Best Stocks 2008

Source: S&P's Best and Worst of 2008