David Sterman

Did you have the misfortune of owning for-profit education stocks in the third quarter? Then you're likely licking your wounds right now, and presumably, cutting your losses. Just look at the third quarter share price drops for some of the leading players in the sector.

I noted back in mid-August that these stocks looked ripe for deeper drops, and that prediction has surely happened. This whole industry is the epitome of "dead money," with a range of headwinds that will likely keep them in the investor doghouse for quite some time to come.

Still, it's useful to take an end-of-quarter look at the crop of recent losers. Though some stocks surely deserve the thrashing they've received over the past three months, others have only been temporarily pushed out of favor and now represent deep value. The key is to look at what drove the sell-off and how soon management can stabilize the ship.

Here are the 20 biggest losers in the third quarter. All of these companies are members of the S&P 400 (mid-caps), S&P 500 (mid and large caps) or the S&P 600 (small caps).

Third-Quarter Losers

Questcor Pharma (Nasdaq: QCOR) is the quarter's biggest loser and is unlikely to rebound any time soon. Shares may have been tempting for bottom-fishers after dropping in mid-September on news that health insurer Aetna (NYSE: AET) would limit reimbursement coverage for its $23,000 Acthar drug to just one type of treatment -- infantile spasms. Yet when it eventually became apparent that the Food and Drug Administration was looking at Questcor's possible wrong-headed marketing practices, this truly became a stock to shun. Such FDA investigations rarely end well.

David Sterman

David Sterman has worked as an investment analyst for nearly two decades. He is currently an analyst for StreetAuthority.com

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