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Market Wrap-Up for Dec.30 (MA, V, GLD, more)

Similar to the session before Christmas break or the after Thanksgiving, there wasn't much in terms of central themes for investors to latch onto in this final trading session of the year.

Next week, you will hear the thesis of how the first five trading days of a new year tend to determine the trend for the rest of the year. Looking at last year's data, this thesis proved pretty useless. The early action of 2011 was strong to the upside, but that failed to hold as the year went on.

As we scanned over today's subdued action, two names that did well this year in the financial space, Mastercard ( MA ) and Visa ( V ), gave back some of their gains. As we've mentioned before, it's possible that some of 2011′s biggest winners may be set to pull back a bit as 2012 kicks off. I wouldn't be surprised if the biggest dividend winners of 2011 take a break in early 2012, which would be a good thing. A nice pullback would provide a good opportunity to upgrade some names we formerly liked back onto our Best Dividend Stocks List at better price/yield levels. Gold ( GLD ) prices ended the year on an up note, and did tally a near 10% gain on the year, but that was well off the earlier year highs. Oil prices gained just over 8% on the year (unfortunately, as that tends to hit consumers in the wallet). The Dow gained over 5% on the year, outpacing the S&P and Nasdaq. If you just bought the index funds as many "experts" like to tell investors to do, it was another year of nothing. Nothing beats picking the best stocks and doing it consistently! That's what we strive for.

But About Those Earnings…

It's been a great December for the markets, as was the case in 2010. A bit of a dark cloud has developed underneath the surface, however, as dividend investors have been sipping champagne with the great returns. In a recent report outlined by Barrons magazine, a total of 96 S&P 500 companies have revised fourth-quarter outlooks lower, while just 27 have an improved outlook. Let us all enjoy a great 2011 for dividend stocks, but let's not take our eyes off the ball as 2012 gets set to kick in. As English historian Thomas Fuller once said, "In fair weather, prepare for foul."

Some People Can't Accept Simple Solutions

A certain amount of people will always tend to see things with a cynical eye. Their favorite lines include quips like "If it was that easy, we'd all be rich."

What many people don't realize is that you are completely in charge of how complicated or simple you want your life to be - whether it's your personal life, career, or your investments. The difference between success and failure often depends on how you deal with adversity, and having the patience to see things through.

Offer someone a solution that works, but takes a bit of time, and they'll cast it off as being too slow. They'll tell you they need results here and now. An old friend of mine in the food service industry always swore by the mantra that "Good food takes time to make." The same concept applies to investing. If you want superior results, then you'd better take your jacket off and stay awhile.

I guarantee that the fast lane will almost never be the answer when it comes to getting ahead in your financial life. For every time you zoom ahead, you'll inevitably hit several bumps in the road that send you to the back of the pack. Then the never-ending cycle of ups and downs begins, as you try to get back to where you thought you would stay. Keep things simple and stay on track. The simplest solution is usually the best one!

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, we will see little in the way of earnings as the markets will be closed on Monday and we could likely see lighter volume in the first few days of 2012.

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 .

* Quick Note - The "Weekend Edition" Newsletter will be sent out on Monday this week (instead of Sunday) due to the New Year's Holiday.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you this holiday 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 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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