The 22 most controversial stocks in America

The bull market in stocks has not taken every company along.

There are thousands of stocks in the market, and many of them have become hugely controversial among investors and trader.

Some of the companies on this list are either consistently the most-shorted stocks on Wall Street, in raging bidding wars, or are being hammered by activist investors.

But some stocks, especially in the biotech sector, have surged at an unprecedented rate.

Based on our analysis of the current market landscape, here are the tickers that we will continue to keep a close eye on this year.

Lumber Liquidators (LL)

Sector: Home Improvement

52-Week Performance: -71%

Comment: Tests on the company's laminate flooring conducted by CBS' '60 Minutes' found levels of formaldehyde that exceed regulatory limits and pose a health risk. The company said the testing method was improper.

Herbalife (HLF)

Sector: Consumer Goods

52-Week Performance: -26%

Comment: Herbalife is one of the most shorted stocks on Wall Street, including the billion-dollar bet by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman. A grand jury has subpoenaed people and documents to determine whether to investigate claims that Ackman manipulated the stock.

Tesla (TSLA)

Sector: Consumer Goods

52-Week Performance: -16%

Comment: Tesla is going to spend $US1.5 billion on capital expenditure this year even its ability to deliver strong sales is in question. In January, CEO Elon Musk said the company won't be profitable until 2020.

GoPro (GPRO)

Sector: Consumer Goods

Performance since IPO: +26%

Comment: GoPro shares have rallied since its IPO but competition is growing quickly; Apple has acquired a patent for a mountable camera, and Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi plans to launch a 16-megapixel model.

The Long Bond (TLT)

Sector: Government Securities

52-Week Performance: +21%

Comment: Since the end of the financial crisis, most analysts have been betting that yields and interest rates have nowhere to go but up, and they have been wrong. But that may be about to change.


Sector: Financial Services

52-Week Performance: -86%

Comment: FXCM's clients lost big when the Swiss National Bank removed its currency's peg against the euro. The company got a $US300 million lifeline from Leucadia.

American Express (AXP)

Sector: Financial Services

52-Week Performance: -9%

Comment: This year, American Express has lost co-branding deals with Costco and JetBlue, lost an anti-trust lawsuit, and fired 5,000 workers in a restructuring plan.

Weight Watchers (WTW)

Sector: Services

52-Week Performance: -53%

Comment: Shares tumbled by 34% after the last earnings announcement that disclosed new marketing campaigns failed to avert a 15% decline in membership in the fourth quarter. Analysts have said it is facing strong competition from fitness apps and wearables.

Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS)

Sector: Health Care

52-Week Performance: +47%

Comment: This company has nothing to do with Islamic State. It rallied by a massive 159% in 2014.

McDonald's (MCD)

Sector: Fast Food

52-Week Performance: +3%

Comment: McDonald's sales in the US have been plunging; in February, sales fell 4% and analysts had expected a 0.7% drop. Steve Easterbrook replaced Don Thompson as CEO and the company is working to revamp its menu.

The Vix

Sector: N/A

52-Week Performance: -13%

Comment: The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or the 'fear index,' is controversial because it means everything to some investors and absolutely nothing to others.

Biotechs (IBB)

A researcher prepares medicine at a laboratory in Nanjing University in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, April 29, 2011.

Sector: Health Care

52-Week Performance: +33%

Comment: Biotech stocks are in a massive bull market that has some worried they are in a bubble.

Alibaba (BABA)

Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, attends the session 'An Insight, An Idea with Jack Ma' in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 23, 2015.

Sector: E-Commerce

Performance since IPO: -8%

Comment: The Securities and Exchange Commission has contacted Alibaba regarding claims that it sold fake goods, and its merchants paid people to buy their products and leave positive reviews. Earnings plunged 28% to $US964 million in the fourth quarter. (WUBA)

Sector: Technology

52-Week Performance:-5%

Comment: The 'Craigslist of China' is one of the most heavily shorted stocks on Wall Street.

Darden (DRI)

Sector: Restaurants

52-Week Performance: +38%

Comment: Hedge fund Starboard Value published a 294-slide take down of Darden, slamming the quality of food at Olive Garden.

Allergan (AGN)

Sector: Pharmaceuticals

52-Week Performance: +87%

Comment: Allergan was acquired by Actavis after a failed bid by Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Bill Ackman.

Whiting Petroleum (WLL)

Sector: Energy

52-Week Performance: -41%

Comment: North Dakota's largest oil producer is emblematic of the fallout from the oil crash. It is looking for possible buyers according, to the FT, and slashed its capital expenditure plans in half from last year.

Twitter (TWTR)

Sector: Social Media

52-Week Performance: +6%

Comment: Twitter's revenues nearly doubled to $US479 million in Q4 2014, but the site is still struggling to attract active users. In SEC filings, the company disclosed that nearly 10% of all accounts do nothing.

Apple (AAPL)

Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the Apple Watch during an Apple event in San Francisco, California March 9, 2015.

Sector: Technology

52-Week Performance: +71%

Comment: Apple joined the Dow March 19 after the 7-for-1 stock split last year lowered its share price. The world's richest company is launching a new smart watch and possibly a new streaming set-top box this year.

Weibo (WB)

Weibo Corp., a subsidiary of Chinese Internet behemoth Sina, has filed for a $500 million stock offer in the United States, the ultimate exercise in capitalism, as it seeks funds to grow users in the face of pressure from newer competitors

Sector: Social Media

Performance since IPO: +6%

Comment: The 'Chinese Twitter' is rife with censorship, and gained attention during the massive student protests in Hong Kong last year.

Kinder Morgan (KMI)

Sector: Energy

52-Week Performance: +35%

Comment: The oversupply of US oil has helped energy infrastructure companies like Kinder Morgan, which owns around 80,000 miles of pipeline. Last year, founder Rich Kinder made $US1.5 billion by bringing all his publicly traded entities into one company.

Valeant (VRX)

J. Michael Pearson, Chairman of the board and CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., waits for the start of their annual general meeting in Laval, Quebec May 20, 2014.

Sector: Pharmaceuticals

52-Week Performance: +43%

Comment: Valeant is essentially in a bidding war for Salix pharmaceuticals. It raised its offer by $US173 a share, but that's still below Endo's offer of $US175 a share.

Only one of the original companies on the Dow is still listed.

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