Market Wrap-Up for Dec.21 (NKE, ORCL, WAG, PAYX, CTAS, more)

Stock performance with laptop and calculator

The focus was back on fundamentals for the markets today, and investors didn't take too well to some of the earnings results.

Oops! Realtors Mistakenly Overinflated Housing Data

Before we delve into the stocks making headlines today, I just wanted to point out a recent story that has me shaking my head. Today, the National Association of Realtors revised existing home sales data for the 2007-2010 period by 14%. What does that mean? It means that the agency mistakenly reported a significantly higher amount of existing home sales during that period than had actually occurred.

What a shock! The organization that represents the interests of real estate agencies overestimated the numbers to their benefit. This development is just another example of why we should always remain skeptical of the economic data we're greeted with on a daily basis. As investors, our focus should be squarely on company and industry fundamentals. Those metrics are what will ultimately determine share prices over the long term.

Mixed Earnings Results Had Stocks Moving

Getting back to the earnings results from earlier today, reports from names such as Oracle Corp ( ORCL ) ( read more here ), Walgreen Company ( WAG ) ( more ), and Paychex ( PAYX ) ( more ), were met with selling by market participants, although Walgreen Co. did bounce nicely off the early lows. On the flipside, buyers liked the results from Nike ( NKE ) ( report here ) and Cintas ( CTAS ), with both stocks trading in the green all day.

Ratings Shave for Some of Our Favorite Names

Anyone checking out our Dividend.com Premium section today will notice that we trimmed the ratings on several recommended names. These stocks are still recommended, but due to the recent outperformance and share price run-ups, we felt compelled to cut their ratings just a bit. Again, these names are all still on our Best Dividend Stocks List . It's just that the valuations for some have gotten a little less attractive, so subscribers should consider looking at some of the other names we currently recommend which may have similar ratings at this point.

2011 Has Been a Big Year for Dividend Stocks!

It is always great to see the media tip their hat to what has been a great year for dividend-paying stocks. We're seeing several major media outlets publishing articles about how dividends were a big investing theme in 2011.

The truth is that we tend to see solid years more often than not in the dividend world, but the business media focuses their attention instead on the high-risk momentum action. Only in times of extreme duress does the media seem to focus on our dividend niche. Regardless, we won't be distracted from our job of finding the best dividend names to put fresh capital into.

I'd like to thank all our Dividend.com Premium subscribers and newsletter readers for helping spread the word about our service. It means a lot to us, and telling loved ones about Dividend.com is the best possible gift you can give to us this holiday season.

Our Beat The Markets with Dividend Stocks eBook Has Arrived!

We just debuted our brand new 275-page eBook, exclusively on Dividend.com! 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 Dividend.com Premium subscribers.

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A Dividend Capture Strategy for Active Investors

We now offer complete U.S. dividend data for all Dividend.com Premium members, so anyone that focuses on "Dividend Capture" trading strategies should have plenty of good stuff to research each day. Just check our enhanced Ex-Dividend Calendar , which is the best in the business, to search for upcoming payouts.

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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 Nasdaq, Inc.

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

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