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The Biggest Earnings Busts

With an expanding Libor controversy, a second high-profile brokerage bankruptcy in PFGBest (following MF Global last fall), a looming fiscal cliff, a spate of municipal bankruptcies and a continued anemic recovery, investors are gearing up for what could be one of the most important earnings seasons for market confidence since the financial crisis.

With a handful of early misses fresh on investors’ minds (including Supervalu, Progressive Corp., and WD-40), markets will be keeping a close eye on the flood of 250-plus companies reporting financials over the next two weeks.

On Friday the 13th of July, they were reminded of the potential landmines some companies face, as JPMorgan reported second quarter earnings, revealing a “whale” sized trading loss of $4.4 billion at its chief investment office. (Despite the hit, the bank reported a profit of $5 billion — a gain previously forecasted by CEO Jamie Dimon.)

In all, Wall Street will look to avoid the massive landmines that shook, and shocked, the investing world — companies whose poor earnings results spiraled into financial disaster.

With that said, CNBC and Factset culled through a decade’s worth of earnings misses, mistakes, and utter catastrophes to bring you some of the worst quarterly performances in the history of the S&P 500.

By Jesse Bergman, Margaret Popper and Max Viscio
Posted 13 July 2012

Photo: Stock4B Creative | Getty Images