Market Wrap-Up for Feb.17 (WTW, DPS, CLF, WMB, KO, LO, SJM, more)

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It was an overall steady day for the markets, along with a decent number of dividend payouts coming over the wires.

Earnings boosted several dividend names, but the biggest winner of the day was Weight Watchers ( WTW ) after the company just stunned analysts with the size of its 2011 earnings estimates. Shares of WTW rallied over $20 this morning on that news. Other earnings plays that had a good day included recently-recommended name Dr. Pepper Snapple Group ( DPS ). Cliffs Natural Resources ( CLF ) and J.M. Smucker Company ( SJM ) traded in the green as well following earnings results. Williams Co. ( WMB ) was up on news the company will be splitting in two. The company also announced a dividend boost. Late in the morning, beverage giant Coca-Cola ( KO ) announced a 7% increase in its dividend payout. Tobacco play Lorillard ( LO ) announced a 16% increase in its dividend payout to lift shares almost 2%. We had removed shares of Lorillard from our recommended list recently on concerns we have surrounding the coming FDA judgement/opinion on use of menthol in cigarettes, which accounts for the majority of Lorillard's sales.

I have to admit, I am a big fan of American Idol. My kids and I really enjoy the whole "dreams can come true" mindset for the contestants. Last night was another episode of "cut-downs" as singers needed to perform as part of groups. It's always interesting to see the type of friction this can cause as egos are clashing everywhere you turn. What amazes me is that often times the individual performers that we thought were amazing on their own, begin to crumble when taken into a different situation. They lose sight of what needs to be done to get through to the next rounds. You see some completely unravel and throw the opportunity they had once cherished right down the drain.

This phenomenon isn't unlike the investing world in that many individuals know what needs to get done to build wealth, but for some reason or another, can not seize the moment. Whether it is just putting some extra coin to the side every month, spending some money to find quality research and investment ideas, or swallowing their pride when an investment idea doesn't pan out, investors consistently make big mistakes. I know the market continues to move higher and some people may be waiting for a pullback. There is nothing wrong with doing so, but don't skip your monthly investments you can be making because of that. There are plenty of good yield plays that you can still find to put money to work in, even after the nice run the market has had.

Taking financial responsibility and knowing what you can afford to do is the key. I talk about investing in quality dividend-paying stocks as a great way to build up your future income, but if you are spending like there's no tomorrow as well, then that is a risk that could eventually negate all the good you might be doing on the investment side. Saving is a mantra that needs to also be adopted if the work you're doing for the long-term is ever going to make a real difference down the line. Make smart decisions all around, not just in the stock market.

One of the things you can do is create a list of income and expenses. Go through your check book and bank statements to avoid missing what would be routine expenses. Little things do add up, but it's the bigger expenditures that do the most damage (hefty monthly car payments, big shopping sprees that lead to high credit card bills). Wanting the latest and greatest handbag or tech gadget is a vice that you should only have if you make enough money to afford them - and still be able to put away a healthy amount of money in your investments each month. I am not a "don't buy lattes or nice clothes" type of money pundit. If you work hard, make good coin, and invest consistently, why not enjoy yourself? Just don't forget to have an emergency fund (6-12 months of expenses) saved up just in case tings turn south for you. The goal at the end of the day should be to earn as much money as you can in your field and get a system in place to address the keys I just mentioned (budget structure - income/expenses, savings structure, investing structure, emergency fund structure).

Be sure to check out our latest "Top 100 Dividend Stocks on Our Watchlist" post we published earlier today. I wanted to update everyone that my "Be a Dividend Millionaire" book release has been moved up to April 14th! It's very exciting and I hope everyone can grab a copy (and maybe some extra copies to give to others). One last thing, please pass this newsletter on to any family, friends, or colleagues that you think could benefit from it. Word of mouth about is one of the best gifts you can give us.

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 .

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: CLF , DPS , KO , LO , SJM

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