On Thursday, the Dow (INDEX: ^DJI) was full of winners. Then Friday rolls around, and only five of the 30 blue chips trade in the black at midday. What's going on?

First of all, the index may be down broadly, but the losses don't run deep. The biggest-percentage loser right now is McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) with a sizable 1.9% drop, based on a downgrade to "neutral" by one of the 26 analyst firms tracking the fast-food king. Mickey D's fell as much as 3% before the market came to its senses, and the stock looks likely to recover further before the day is done.

Behind that red-ink leader, you'll find PC partners Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ), both trading down about 1.3%. Reports point to HP losing its catbird seat in the PC market, and the addressable market itself is shrinking. Intel just introduced a brand new mobile processor for tablet computers, but investors don't seem terribly impressed.

On the flip side, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) is far and away the biggest winner on the Dow right now. The stock has gained 2.3%, as several major analyst firms walked away satisfied from a round of meet-and-greets with Cisco's management. Cisco said that domestic demand for high-speed networking equipment is improving, and the analysts like the company's long-term earnings potential.

Chasing hot stocks is a good way to get burned. Saving is a long-term process, not an overnight miracle, and we believe that looking past news events and market cycles is often the best way to win for the average guy. We highlight three safe, stable large-cap companies that should thrive over time in a new research report from the Fool. You can access it free of charge today by clicking here.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. Check out Anders' holdings and bio or follow him on Twitter and Google+. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel, Cisco, and McDonald's. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of McDonald's and Intel. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.