Market Wrap-Up for Mar.8 (BF-B, URBN, QCOM, PSA, CAT, PNC, more)

The market pushed higher today as investors saw some of the recent gains re-captured.

We made some adjustments to our recommended list today, so be sure to check out the links below if you did not read the e-mail alert we sent out earlier.

It's been a great year for dividend payouts so far. Our data indicates that a whopping 362 companies have increased their dividend payouts already in 2011, while just 18 companies have cut their payouts. This is a great sign for dividend investing, as companies are clearly re-dedicating themselves to providing value to long-term shareholders through aggressive dividend increases.

Brown Forman ( BF-B ) had a nice pop following the company's earnings results, finishing up nearly 5%. Retailers held up well despite a huge earnings miss from Urban Outfitters ( URBN ). We still remain underweight the retail sector, which has had a tough going so far in 2011. Qualcomm ( QCOM ) raised their dividend payout but shares closed lower following a Wall Street analyst downgrade. Some of today's biggest winners included Public Storage ( PSA ), Caterpillar ( CAT ), and PNC Financial Services ( PNC ).

Gloomy data posted yesterday from the the Congressional Budget Office indicated the U.S. had its largest monthly deficit in history in February at $223 billion. That figure tops last February's record of $220.9 billion, and marks the 29th straight month the government has run in the red - a modern record. The government certainly isn't setting an example of how individuals should be running their own fiscal households. We have seen fluctuations in the past, but this data trend of big budget deficits is going into its third year. You can certainly sense the media is gearing up for quite a political battle as we head into a presidential election year in 2012.

The best thing individuals can do is get one's financial house in order and expect that certain benefits will get cut along the way. Social Security payouts have been frozen for two years straight and there isn't much optimism that we will see much of a change when a decision is due on whether there will be any increases for next year at this point. More than 53 million people receive Social Security. Retirement benefits average $1,100 a month, and disabled workers get an average of $1,065. The average monthly Social Security benefit for retired workers in December 2010 was $1,175.50. That would produce an income of $14,106 per year. The maximum possible Social Security benefit a worker who retires at age 66 in 2011 could get is $28,392 annually.

If you don't protect your portfolio against inflation, you're going to run out of money much sooner than you would like. This is a problem for conservative investors who have remained on the sidelines, deciding to keep their money in low interest rate savings accounts or CD's. This type of investing will often earn at a rate lower than inflation (especially over the last 3 years, with interest rates at historically low levels). The real value of money kept in these low-interest investment vehicles is actually decreasing over time.

Increasing one's exposure to quality dividend-paying stocks that have consistently raised their dividend payouts is one way to cushion one's investment portfolio to the crushing blow of inflation over time. Getting back to social security, delaying when you file to receive social security payments can be a smart thing for many. A top-earner retiring at 62 would get $1,803 a month. By waiting until 66, he'd increase that amount to $2,442, and delaying until 70 would bump the monthly payment to $3,256. Lastly, have as few financial obligations as possible as retirement approaches. Examine your financial situation and figure out a plan to pay down as much of your debt as you can before you retire. This will be a much needed piece of mind.

I have two scheduled media appearances I wanted to let everyone know about this week. The first is RADIO AMERICA "HOME AND FAMILY FINANCE RADIO" (NATIONALLY SYNDICATED) - This is a 7.5 minute taped interview on 3/9 to air first week in April. Home & Family Finance, presented by America's credit unions, is a weekly one-hour show hosted by veteran television anchor and radio host Paul Berry. The program offers consumer finance information and advice to a general audience. Radio America programs are broadcast via three satellites and over 400 affiliates in 60+ U.S. metropolitan markets carry this program. It also broadcasts Home & Family Finance weekly to all of our overseas military bases and facilities in 65 countries. The second is KABC MARKET WRAP WITH MOE" (SYNDICATED) - This is a 5-10 minute taped interview on 3/10. Market Wrap is a nationally syndicated broadcast carried 6 days a week on 12 radio stations in the western US. Interviews air during drive time from 6:00 to 6:30 PM PST, on KABC which reaches over 1.2 million listeners every week and is the nation's third largest radio station.

As you may know, my "Be a Dividend Millionaire" book release has been moved up to April 14th! 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 Dividend.com 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 Nasdaq, Inc.

Created by Dividend.com

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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