January 05, 2012 at 16:10 PM EST
Market Wrap-Up for Jan.5 (ROST, TGT, JCP, MOS, MON, BKS, more)

Despite some potentially troubling (several decent job cut announcements as far as positions being cut and mediocre monthly retail sales figures from December) data out this morning, investors looked for some stocks to buy following some early red.

Monthly retail sales figures were released today, as is the usual on the first Thursday of each month. The results today were particularly important, as stores gave us a glimpse at how the all-important December holiday shopping period went.

Ross Stores (ROST), Macy’s (M), and TJX Companies (TJX) continued to do well in the period, but news wasn’t so good for Target (TGT) (read more here) and J.C. Penney (JCP). Both companies trimmed their earnings expectations following disappointing December sales.

A few major companies also released quarterly earnings reports overnight and this morning. Moving to the upside on good results and guidance were shares of Monsanto (MON) (read the report here), Mosaic (MOS) (report here), and Seagate Technology (STX) (report here). On the flipside, shares of Eli Lilly (LLY) (more here) and Barnes & Noble (BKS) ended in the red following lowered guidance.

Powerball Tickets Doubling in Price (Now You Can Lose Twice as Much!)

Tickets for the Powerball Lottery are will double in price to $2 beginning Jan. 15, as lottery organizers are betting that bigger jackpots will entice more people to play. This same strategy worked with the scratch ticket games some years ago. Initially, the scratch-offs were all priced at $1 each. After boosting prices (and prize amounts), however, those games really soared in popularity.

Lotteries and the proliferation of casinos (perhaps even legalized online gambling in the U.S. soon, according to some reports) only add to the “get rich quick” mentality that is a bane on our society. Despite the steep odds against them, many folks I know personally make it a habit of “depositing” their money in the local casino or state lottery. This trend creates an opportunity for those of us looking to build wealth the smart way, however. The opportunity to make good investments — in businesses or in the markets — tends to increase during periods like we’re in now.

I’m not saying you should never donate your money to your state through the lottery system (technically that’s what happens when you buy and lose with lottery games repeatedly). It can be fun once in a while to buy that Powerball or scratch-off ticket. If you intend to become a regular parishioner of this particular type of religion, however, you may want to re-think your long-term master plan.

New Watchlist Article Out Today

Be sure to check out our weekly Top 50 High-Yield Watchlist Names post that is out today, exclusively for Dividend.com Premium members. This list gives readers a good idea of what stocks we’re watching behind the scenes here for potential upgrades.

Our Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks eBook Has Arrived!

We just debuted our brand new 275-page eBook, exclusively on Dividend.com! In this digital-only book, we look ahead to 2012 and the main factors that could affect dividend investors. A $39.95 value, the eBook is a free download for paid Dividend.com Premium subscribers.

Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks contains a full economic forecast for 2012, including in-depth analysis on 65 of the biggest dividend stocks out there. It’s a great way to get prepared for your investing next year! So head over to the Dividend.com Premium homepage now to download your copy.

A Dividend Capture Strategy for Active Investors

We now offer complete U.S. dividend data for all Dividend.com Premium members, so anyone that focuses on “Dividend Capture” trading strategies should have plenty of good stuff to research each day. Just check our enhanced Ex-Dividend Calendar, which is the best in the business, to search for upcoming payouts.

Speaking of dividend capture, Dividend.com Premium members can also access a 9-page report we published on the essential elements to any successful dividend capture strategy. Be sure to check it out here on the Premium homepage.

Thanks for reading everybody. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks, as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here.

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