With more than 8,790 publicly traded stocks on U.S. exchanges and another 7,000 or so listed on the OTC Bulletin Board and the pink sheets, it's not particularly difficult to find stocks you wouldn't want to buy. It's not even that hard to find stocks with numbers so bad they're good short-sale candidates.
What's really hard is recognizing companies whose shares seem like they might be bargains, but that actually have subtle or hidden problems. These stocks truly belong your DO NOT BUY list.
A good example is Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC). The financial sector was among the leaders as the market rallied from its July lows, but BAC didn't add much to the advance. In fact, after a brief bounce, it tumbled to a 12-month low of $12.18 on August 30 - a far cry from its October 2007 high of $52.71. Still, it looks like the stock built a solid technical base during the early September market upsurge and could be poised for a breakout if its earnings, due out Oct. 20, beat expectations.