Market Wrap-Up for Feb.7 (PM, AAPL, V, PRU, ROST, GPS, more)

The smell of volatility was in the air once again, as the market had a decent amount of selling in much of the session, but was able to recoup a decent chunk back by the close. Economic concerns for Europe continue to remain a constant theme so far this year, and the nervousness is certainly helping keep a lid on gains for the U.S. markets.

Finding some positives in today’s otherwise tough tape, investors liked the earnings results out of names like Lazard Ltd. (LAZ). Phillip Morris International (PM), and Advance Auto Parts (AAP). On the flipside, the reaction wasn’t as good with earnings news out of Prudential (PRU), Starwood Hotels (HOT), and Visa (V). Monthly retail sales data were out and the news helped shares of Macy’s (M) and Ross Stores (ROST), but didn’t do much to help shares of Gap Inc. (GPS) and Limited Brands (LTD). Apple (AAPL) shares managed to finish in the green as news hedge fund manager David Einhorn has made his battle with the company to enhance shareholder value a public skirmish, making various media appearances to state his case. The company also commented late in the session that it was open to various ways to increasing shareholder returns.

Yes, It’s Like This Most Days

Way back in the 80s when I was learning how to run a food business, I worked in a super-busy deli alongside the key breakfast/lunch manager. He had a certain way he liked things done, and that always didn’t jibe with the rest of the staff. His pace was quite intimidating at the start, even for myself, but I quickly adjusted and flourished under his mentorship. I could definitely say some of those lessons helped me as my work life accelerated (I eventually owned and ran my own successful food business). But I can’t say it helped many others who were new hires, many of whom were quickly sent out the door.

I clearly remember one person who worked their first lunch shift and right after it, asked if it was busy like that everyday. My manager and I quickly knew this person’s days would be limited. He looked pretty worn after the shift and we were correct in our prediction that they would not last very long (I think he lasted only one day, in fact).

Anyone who is following the markets can quickly tell you the pace of daily news and alerts has not slowed down at all in recent years. For some, the pace can be quite overwhelming, but if you want to succeed on the research side of things, you have little choice but prepare yourself for the everyday workload. For investors who want to make investing/trading more of a full-time occupation, all I can say is to not only prepare yourself financially, but also mentally and physically as well. Sitting by your computer monitors for hours on end processing storylines and adjusting your market positions can be quite taxing on your physical and mental well-being. Most traders fail in their efforts to make the financial markets their daily means of income because of the factors I just mentioned.

My best advice for most is to find great investment research sites that tend to be consistent in their approach to the markets. Also seek out services that align well with your own investing style and game plan. Putting your mind toward your career and the super important task of generating capital from whatever you do so you can further invest is the smartest use of your time, and gives you the best chance to build a higher net worth over the years.

Our 2013 Dividend Stock Guide Has Arrived!

Our new members-only eBook has just been released! This 250-page guide to investing in 2013 contains a concise economic forecast for next year, including full previews for 60 big-name stocks! Be sure to head over to Premium and download it and get your game plan in place for all good things dividend-related in 2013!

25 Years of Dividend-Increasing Stocks

We recently updated our list of dividend stocks that have been paying out dividends for 25 years or more. Be sure to check out the latest list of names here.

Dividends Really Matter

Financial blog recently took a look at the difference dividend payouts made in the overall return investors saw throughout the prior decades. Here are some of the highlights:

- The Nasdaq is down 28% since the end of 1999. Even the “blue chip” S&P 500 stocks are down 15% during that time frame…until you add back those “boring” dividends. With dividends included, the S&P 500′s 15% loss flips to a 6% gain.

- Without dividends, the S&P 500 index would have produced a loss for the 25 long years from August 1929 to August 1954. Then again, without dividends, the S&P 500 produced a 5% loss during the 13 years from September 1961 to September 1974. But with dividends included, the S&P’s loss became a 46% gain.

- Over the course of the last half-century, dividends have contributed more than half of the stock market’s total return — 56%, to be exact.

Of course, you can’t discuss the potency of dividend investing without making mention of how awesome compound returns are. I can’t stress enough the power of compound interest: you take a small amount of money and turn it into a large amount over time. Finding the right companies at the right price points which not only grow earnings, but also grow their dividend payouts as well!

We have much more about why Dividends are so awesome if you check out our “What is a Dividend?” page here.

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 Premium members. This list gives readers a good idea of what stocks we’re watching behind the scenes here for potential upgrades.

Go Beyond This Newsletter

We know many of you enjoy reading the daily newsletter, but remember that with our Premium service, the newsletter is just one small component of what we offer. Here are the “Big Three” benefits of our Premium service:

- The Best Dividend Stocks List is used by tens of thousands of investors to help build their own portfolios.

- Creating your own Watchlist allows you to track the performance, news, and upcoming dividend payouts of the particular stocks you care about.

- Finally, we offer the most complete and easy-to-use dividend data on the web. Many subscribers use this data as part of a “Dividend Capture” trading strategy, but long-term investors can use it to keep track of impending payouts. Just visit our Ex-Dividend Calendar for a complete outlook on which companies will be paying out soon.

We don’t ask for a credit card to use our free trial, and we don’t bill you when your trial ends. No obligation whatsoever! So keep enjoying the newsletter, but please give Premium a shot if you haven’t already subscribed!

Thanks for reading, and 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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