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These Dow Stocks Avoided the Worst of Today's Carnage

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Things are getting ugly for the stock market. Anytime you see all 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI  ) down on the day, you can tell that good news was hard to come by. With bad economic data sprouting up around the globe, stock investors are getting out while the getting's good, turning to the red-hot bond market for safety. Even as the 10-year Treasury yield dropped to another record low of 1.47%, stocks had their worst day of the year, with the Dow dropping 275 points to close at 12,119 -- below its level at the beginning of 2012.

There were no winners in the Dow today, but some stocks did better at holding their ground than others. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) was the best performer in the Dow, losing only 0.4%. Most of the company's recent news has centered on its Mexican bribery scandal, as the issue was a major part of its shareholder meeting earlier today. But with all of its board members surviving a shareholder vote, Wal-Mart appears ready to move on with business, and shareholders have to appreciate the stock's defensive characteristics in the face of economic headwinds.

AT&T (NYSE: T  ) fell 0.8%. The company's CEO said today that cell-phone plans that focus only on data rather than minutes and text messages should be available within the next two years. Given that smartphones have greatly boosted data usage while making phone calls less necessary, the move would put the carrier more in line with the trends toward technology that uses traditional data bandwidth rather than arbitrary voice/text/data divisions. As Leap Wireless (Nasdaq: LEAP  ) introduces a pay-as-you-go iPhone, AT&T clearly needs to deal with an increasingly competitive smartphone market.

Finally, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) dropped 0.9% on a terrible day for oil prices. Crude oil lost more than $3 to finish around $83 per barrel, but so far, the oil giant's stock hasn't fallen as precipitously. With analysts starting to call for further price declines, the path of least resistance for Exxon may be downward, at least in the short run.

Surviving the crash
When the market gets ugly, many investors look to dividend-paying stocks to get them through the bad times. Let me invite you to read about some great examples in the Fool's special report on dividends, where you'll learn about nine stocks that will help you secure your future. It's free, so get your copy today!

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger doesn't own shares of the companies mentioned. You can follow him on Twitter, @DanCaplinger. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,180.77 -21.85 -0.12%
S&P 500 2,143.38 -0.91 -0.04%
NASD 5,245.51 -0.90 -0.02%

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Wal-Mart Stores CAPS Rating: ***
XOM $87.11 Down -0.06 -0.07%
ExxonMobil CAPS Rating: ****