Market Wrap-Up for Feb.22 (GRMN, INTU, GCI, CHK, TJX, NOK, RSH, more)

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The market remained tentative around the Dow 13K levels today, while oil prices and Middle East tensions continue to provide investors with plenty to worry about.

Earnings results helped lift names like Garmin ( GRMN ) and Intuit ( INTU ) ( read more here ) today. On the flipside, TJX Companies ( TJX ) ( report here ) and Chesapeake Energy ( CHK ) ( read more ) ended lower following their earnings announcements. TJX did raise their dividend payout, but still yields less than 1.40%.

Gannett Boosts Dividend 120%

Speaking of dividends, Gannett ( GCI ) made some big waves in a conference call this morning. The company's board authorized a massive 120% dividend hike. GCI's quarterly dividend now goes from 8 cents to 20 cents, bringing the stock's yield up toward the 5% levels. Predictably, the shares are moving higher on the announcement.

As much as we like the new dividend yield, our main concern is the company's business. The traditional publishing space has been brutal for several years now, and shows no signs of recovering. Plus, Gannett shares sold off back in January following their most recent earnings announcement, which is another worry for us.

Just take a look at stocks like Nokia ( NOK ), Radio Shack ( RSH ), and other "value" names where the fundamental business has been hurt badly. The high dividend yields of those stocks have failed to keep shares from falling. Furthermore, let's not forget the unfortunate case of The Tribune Company. That newspaper giant, little more than 18 months after being bought by billionaire investor Sam Zell, filed for bankruptcy in 2008. And another Gannett competitor, The New York Times, has seen its own share of troubles. NYT shares have plunged more than 72% in the past five years.

Now some may argue that Gannett could mimic the performance by Meredith Corp ( MDP ), a broadcasting competitor of GCI that raised its dividend significantly and has seen shares stabilize nicely since. In any case, we bumped up our DARS ratings a bit for GCI (from 2.9 overall to 3.2, but below the 3.5 rating needed to be recommended). We're still concerned about the company's business prospects long term. If the reaction to the most recent quarter is any indication, investors may want to think long and hard if the stock merits a place in their portfolio. The market likes the news today, but beyond that, Gannett's future is far from certain.

Income-Oriented Investors in the Sweet Spot

An article in today's Wall Street Journal looked at how similar the current period of low interest rates is to the economic environment back in the 40′s and 50′s. According to Strategas Research Partners, high-yield dividend stocks offered the best returns for stock investors throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In the 1940s, dividends comprised 74% of the total returns investors earned on stocks, and 40% of returns during the 1950s. That doesn't mean every stock that pays a dividend gets the green light to buy, of course. Our industry-leading Best Dividend Stocks List makes it easy to find what stocks deserve your hard-earning investment dollars.

Brain Malfunctions

My kids and I are big fans of American Idol, and watching this year's "group round" auditions makes for some startling revelations about today's younger generation and how they process information.

Granted, the contestants suffer from a bit of nervousness during their auditions, but nerves can only account for so much. The young singers (ages 15-28 I believe) break up into groups during this round, and have an entire day to learn one song to perform together. Each group member has just 3 to 4 lines of a song to memorize, along with a bit of choreography for their next day performance. Not super easy, but certainly not rocket science, right? Problem is, most of these kids simply aren't used to putting that kind of intellectual effort into anything.

After staying up late in an attempt to memorize lines, get their performance in order, and gel with their teammates, it appeared that some of the contestants' bodies and brains began to "malfunction." Many suffered from nausea, fainting, temper tantrums, paranoia, and other maladies.

The next day, the live performances began and I was appalled at how many contestants couldn't remember 3 or 4 simple lines to a song. This phenomenon didn't surprise me, unfortunately. Over the past few years, I've spoken to high school and college students about the business world, and these students' teachers and professors usually weren't too positive in their assessments of today's youth. Many educators related to me that they've seen a big drop in attention to detail over the years. Their students seem to have trouble when it comes to problem solving and using their brain more than they usually do. It's hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this trend, but the ever-growing popularity of video games, texting, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter probably aren't helping the problem.

As a parent, this trend is a big concern for me. I know full well that if I don't stay on top of my own kids and push them to succeed, it'll be all too easy for them to fall into an intellectual rut. If you have children or grandchildren, I urge you to do the same. Let's not fall into the trap of lowered expectations for the younger generation. Instead, help inspire our youth to learn and achieve more!

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Quick note: if the stock is moving up too quickly following a recommendation, it may be best to wait for a pullback. Investing is a marathon, not a sprint!

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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 .



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: CHK , GCI , GRMN , INTU , NOK

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