At first blush, it might seem like a bad idea to invest in companies people hate, but it turns out such stocks often outperform the market.
Every year, Harris Interactive takes a survey of the 60 most visible U.S. companies to measure their public reputations. Each company gets a score from 1 to 100.
Harris says companies that score in the 55-64 range have "poor" reputations; those that fall in the 50-54 range are "very poor;" and those with scores below 50 are critical.
And yet many of the companies at the bottom of the list did surprisingly well over the past six months. The stocks with the 10 worst reputations - America's most hated big companies - posted an average gain of more than 17%.
That's nearly triple the 6% gain of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, or the 6.16% gain of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, over the same period.
In fact, only one stock in the bottom 10 of the Harris survey declined - the goat of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, BP plc (NYSE ADR: BP), which fell 4.6%.
Here's a look at the seven best-performing stocks that are among the bottom 10 in the Harris survey.