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It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day ups and downs of the markets. It's important, though, to get at least some longer-term perspective if you want to tap into more important trends that can lead to strong returns for your portfolio.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the stocks of the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) that have made the biggest moves so far this month. Even with a few days left to go in the month, the Dow has struggled to find direction, as it's bounced around yet remains less than 1% above where it closed July.
On the upside, the biggest mover of the month by far has been Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO ) , soaring more than 20%. Half of that gain came on a single day in the middle of the month, after the company reported narrow earnings beats but more importantly announced a huge 75% boost to its dividend payout. After years of watching CEO John Chambers pessimistically predict headwinds for the networking giant, Cisco is finally starting to reward shareholders for their patience. The dividend, which now represents nearly a 3% payout, should do wonders for improving investor morale.
Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) has also done fairly well, rising almost 10%. Problems in Europe had started raising their ugly head in past months, and B of A remains significantly exposed to European economic woes. But to a large extent, those concerns have dissipated during August, and investors are now optimistic that Europe will find a solution to its problems and send beaten-down stocks soaring.
On the other side of the coin, some Dow stocks continue to struggle. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) hasn't emerged from its long slide, as the Dow's big loser today brought its losses to about 7% for the month coming into the session. Today's news that Lexmark would exit the inkjet-printer business in favor of more profitable imaging and software adds to the pressure that HP is feeling, as it considers its own major strategic shift away from low-margin hardware toward higher-margin services. Thus far, though, HP's moves haven't inspired investors' confidence.
Another loser for August is Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) , which is down about 6% for the month. Despite the beverage company's long dominance of the industry, Coke is facing some of the same problems that its peers have to deal with, including higher input costs and slowing economic growth around the world.
Keeping perspective is essential to your long-term investing success. So is getting all the information you can on the stocks you're following. For instance, if you like Bank of America, check out the Fool's premium report on the banking giant. You'll get hard-hitting analysis along with a year's worth of free updates. Check it out today and find out what you've been missing.