Market Wrap-Up for Apr. 20 (MSFT, GE, HON, KMB, INTU, T, more)

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It's been a back-and-forth week for the markets, but when all was said and done, the Dow/S&P finished with gains, while the momentum-led Nasdaq index closed the week slightly lower.

Plenty of big-name earnings winners were pacing part of the gains today. Companies reporting solid results included Microsoft ( MSFT ), Schlumberger ( SLB ), Manpower ( MAN ), Honeywell ( HON ), Kimberly Clark ( KMB ), and General Electric ( GE ). On the flip side, Intuit ( INTU ) shares got hit after the company made some cautious comments regarding its profit estimates. Altera Corp ( ALTR ) and Royal Caribbean ( RCL ) were also down following their earnings reports.

In case you missed them, here's a rundown of the big-name earnings reports we covered this morning:

Financial Peace of Mind is Just a Few Steps Away

It's amazing to talk to people and find out many have no real plans regarding their retirement. You'll hear things like, "I have a 401K, but I don't know what's in it," or "I have a Roth IRA, but I haven't funded it in a while." What many folks don't realize is that investing doesn't have to be complicated.

I firmly believe that almost everyone has the capacity to invest their own money successfully. themselves. Most are just paralyzed by the fear of learning something new. Sure, you need to learn a few things, but it's not rocket science. Plus, it's easy to find a host of great resources to learn from in our digital age. Financial freedom is just a few steps away for those willing to seek it.

One of my favorite stories comes from author/motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, who talked about how caterpillars have a habit of following each other. One day the caterpillars formed in a circle and kept walking round and round. They eventually died from starvation, with a food supply of pine needles just inches away. You see, sometimes the solutions are extremely close to us, but people just can't seem to make the small step outside of their normal routine.

We are a nation of wanting to have "things," even if they provide little use for us once we buy them. I guess it's the piece of mind to think "I have this" and "I have that," just in case someone asks. But isn't it a waste if you don't get the highest and best use of these "things," especially if they take precedence over your financial peace of mind?

At, our message is simple. Growing your nest egg amounts to following a methodical process of funding a brokerage account and routinely putting money into the Best Dividend Stocks each month. If the markets get a bit more turbulent, we examine our current recommendations to see if any of them have a bit more downside than the other names we like. If and when we do imagine that scenario, we make a change on the list. At the same time, we always look for new opportunities and alert subscribers to changes as we make them.

Higher Exposure Requires Greater Accountability

I recently heard a former basketball coach describe how hard University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari has worked to build his track record of success. The coach talked about how John Calipari likes to recruit players he thinks can reach the NBA - not just ones that can be good college players.

The grand exposure of playing basketball for a prominent university like Kentucky also carries heightened risk. One the big stage, players run the risk of being exposed. These kids may have been a big fish in a small pond where they grew up, but at the pinnacle of college athletics, the terms are much different. Regardless of their natural talent level, it takes a lot of hard work to excel. And particularly in college basketball, doing whatever it takes to help your team win is of the utmost importance.

Outside the world of sports, many of us wish for the accolades that come with being successful. Just remember, though, the higher you climb on the totem pole, the bigger the stakes are. Some folks aren't prepared to deal with the added responsibilities that accompany success - especially those who try to take shortcuts to the top. For instance, cheating is still very prevalent in schools, as well as the workplace. You may be able to sneak by for a certain amount of time, but when the moment comes to really show your true worth, your lack of real skills will likely backfire.

I urge you to stay ambitious and believe in your abilities. In time, you can make most any dream come true. Just be sure to take the proper paces along the way. You'll then be prepared to maintain your status when you hit the inevitable rough seas.

Who is Your Market Messenger?

The following quote from George Orwell sums up our daily mission at

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

Having been a student of the markets for several years and learning the many nuances that comprise stock market investing, it's safe to say that many things have changed. In the early days of business media, the focus was on objective reporting. Headlines were determined by real events, and the details around the stories were explained accurately and succinctly. I wish I could say that was the case these days.

Some good sources of info still exist, but business television has really devolved over the past several years. Unfortunately, TV is still the go-to medium for many investors seeking commentary and breaking news. I don't expect the TV ratings chase to ever stop, and so the "play-by-play" drama we see will probably also remain the same.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 40,000 newsletter subscribers that have allowed myself and my team to provide you with our daily take on news that can make a difference in your investing. We often receive great feedback from readers of our newsletter, and we truly appreciate the word of mouth support that we get. We will continue to do our best to help investors achieve great investing results in our daily content and our industry-leading Best Dividend Stocks List.

Our Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks eBook Has Arrived!

We just debuted our brand new 275-page eBook, exclusively on! 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 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 Premium homepage now to download your copy.

A Look to Next Week and a Weekend Preview

Looking ahead to next week, earnings will pick up significantly, with reports from the likes of Boeing ( BA ), Procter & Gamble ( PG ), Bristol Myers ( BMY ), Texas Instruments ( TXN ), and AT&T ( T ), just to name a few.

Be sure to catch up with our latest watchlist updates this weekend on Premium , including reports on earnings/story stocks, analyst upgrades/downgrades, dividend ETFs, and much more. And as always, you can view our current recommendations on our industry-leading Best Dividend Stocks List .

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you this weekend! P.S. Please pass this e-mail on to someone you think can use some financial motivation as well as being kept in the financial news loop that could affect them.

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

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: GE , HON , MAN , MCD , SLB

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