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The 3 Worst Retail Stocks of 2018 (So Far)

Rick Munarriz, The Motley Fool

It's been a flattish year in terms of general equity prices, but some retailers are in a world of hurt. There are plenty of retail concepts with sputtering stock prices, and in some cases the markdowns are warranted. However, there are also a few chains that, though out of favor, have a good chance to bounce back.

J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP), Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK), and GameStop (NYSE: GME) are some of the stocks suffering double-digit percentage losses this year. Let's size them up to see how they got here and how likely they are to claw their way out of their first-half holes.

A J.C. Penney store opening.

Image source: J.C. Penney.

J.C. Penney: Down 26%

One of last year's worst-performing retailers -- down 62% in 2017 -- keeps sinking in 2018. The once-iconic department store operator has fallen on hard times, and shuffling through CEOs and turnaround strategies in recent years have likely only made things worse. Two months ago, Chairman and CEO Marvin Ellison became the latest to throw in the towel

Turning around a reeling department store isn't easy, and recently selling off its corporate jets is more of a bake-sale moment than an actual repositioning. J.C. Penney is closing down stores, and it hosed down its full-year earnings guidance in its latest quarterly report. Comps clocked in flat, something that would be a relative victory if the same CEO who announced those results in mid-May wasn't going to stun the market by announcing that he was leaving a few days later. 

Overstock.com: Down 42%

When you live by crypto, you die by crypto. Unlike J.C. Penney, Overstock.com had a huge 2017. Shares of the online discounter nearly quadrupled -- up a sunning 276% -- but it had little to do with its flagship retailing business. Investor interest in Overstock last year centered around its shift to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, a niche that has cooled in the eyes of investors this year.

It also doesn't help that Overstock's e-commerce business is sputtering. Revenue declined 13% in its seasonally potent holiday quarter before turning slightly positive the following period. Overstock is now emphasizing its tZERO security token initial coin offering more than its retail operations, so it's fair to say that volatility is here to stay.

GameStop: Down 18%

Folks aren't buying video game discs and cartridges the way they used to, and that's naturally going to sting a strip mall staple that thrives on the buying, selling, and second-hand trading of video games as well as the consoles and accessories that make it all happen. 

A fat dividend hasn't been enough, and buyout speculation has provided a temporary uptick. One thing that GameStop has going for it is that it's very profitable, something that doesn't apply these days to J.C. Penney and Overstock. However, none of the positives have been enough to lift GameStop out of what would be its fourth consecutive year of declining stock prices.

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Rick Munarriz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of GameStop and has the following options: short July 2018 $14 calls on GameStop. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.