Market Wrap-Up for July 27 (WLP, TUP, PFCB, BA, NSC, TROW, more)

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It looks like neither side in Washington will be giving in on the debt ceiling debate. The points of contention lie in where the spending cuts and tax increases will be made. Remember, the special interest groups that wield considerable interest in our nation's capital have a lot at stake. Politicians need to demonstrate they're willing to fight to protect some of their biggest supporters (as far as donations are concerned).

It's all part of the political process, while the rest of us watch helplessly from the sidelines until the air is cleared. In the meantime, we are seeing the debt ceiling nervousness translate into more selling for investors.

Speaking of selling, earnings results pushed several companies' shares much lower by the close. Wellpoint ( WLP ) disappointed investors and the stock was down nearly 4%. Shares are still up 20% year-to-date, however. Tupperware ( TUP ) was down over $9, but the shares have been on a tear (up 30% year-to-date), so selling on the news was not a big surprise. P.F. Chang's ( PFCB ) continued its recent struggles by lowering its profit outlook. The stock is down 13% for the day, and is now down 29% in 2011.

On the flip side, there were a couple of earnings standouts bucking the selling trend. Boeing ( BA ) continued to perform well this past quarter, even as airline stocks have struggled. Norfolk Southern ( NSC ) continued the bull run we have seen for the railroad sector plays. Lastly, asset managers were sold off as stocks like Blackrock ( BLK ), T.Rowe Price ( TROW ), and Franklin Resources ( BEN ) led financials lower.

As the political wrangling in Washington continues, let me share with you some of the latest data points that have gotten our attention:

- Only 58 percent of Americans have a job right now (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

- Only 56 percent of Americans are currently covered by employer-provided health insurance (Census)

- The average American household is carrying $75,600 in debt (Federal Reserve Board)

- Close to 20 percent of all American men between the ages of 25 and 54 do not have a job at the moment (Newsweek)

Some of the results above could be chalked up to a bit of bad luck/timing, but you can bet that questionable decision-making had a good part to do with these trends as well. Carrying household debt is not uncommon when you factor in mortgages. However, when people purchased homes way out of their budgets (and yes the banks were lax in not being tougher with their loan standards during the real estate bubble), they put themselves on a truly treacherous path. Not carrying health insurance is a common gamble many feel they can take. The danger, especially for families, is that one hospital visit or sickness no one sees coming. It's "game over" at that point. And clearly, picking the right industry to build a career in has never been more important. I personally believe we will remain in a higher-than-historically-usual unemployment environment for years. Companies will continue to adopt the "do more with less" mantra that has corporate profits near all-time highs.

I talk about these issues as a frequent reminder for all my readers to not let up when it comes to working hard and making the extra sacrifices needed whenever the opportunity arises. Learn your skill better than anyone else and perhaps you can build your own way as an entrepreneur. In Thomas Stanley's "The Millionaire Next Door", he shared results about the type of professions that made up the millionaires he had studied. A third of Stanley's millionaires were entrepreneurs. Another third, retirees, business managers, educators, architects, engineers. About 20% were doctors and attorneys, while one sixth were corporate executives.

Even if you don't fit in any of the profiles above, you still have the opportunity to become a millionaire, but it will come with hard work and commitment. You will learn to methodically save money more than ever as well as commit capital to work for you in income-producing assets (dividend stocks is our favorite). Finding the right strategy for investing is essential, and putting what you've learned into practice is the second step. We advocate investors develop a monthly system of putting money to work in your brokerage accounts. Automate this process as best you can, so you remove any barrier of thinking whether you want to skip a month or two if the market is pulling back. Embrace the learning process of investing and be willing to keep an eye on what your money is doing. Staying in the loop is a necessary component of maximizing your returns.

Just dabbling in the markets will not get you to where you need to be. Putting money to work every month should be a regular routine. If you have a habit of jumping in and out of the markets, dividend investing is the best remedy for that affliction. You will get a new perspective on what long-term investing and the power of compound interest can deliver.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you tomorrow! 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: BA , BEN , BLK , NSC , PFCB

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