2012's 5 Dow Losers

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) had a great rally today, ending the trading session up more than 95 points. Retail sales numbers for September were announced today and showed a 1.1% increase over August. This increase comes at a time when investors needed good news. To know that consumer confidence is increasing because of actual data and not just a survey was precisely what the markets needed today.

But even though the Dow is up today, a few stocks were still trading lower based on news that related more specifically to their organizations. To read about what they were and why they were falling, click here. But right now I would like to look at the five stocks that are lower for the year. First, the Dow is up 9.88% year to date, so while it doesn't seem so bad that Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) is down only 1.5% YTD, remember that if you had simply invested in a Dow index fund, you would currently be 11.38 percentage points better off. The remaining four components that are trading lower for the year are Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) , which is down 8.6% YTD; Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) , which is the worst performing Dow stock this year, down 43.83% YTD; Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , which is lower by 10.39% YTD; and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) , which has seen its shares lose 6.81% of their value YTD.

So why are they down?
Boeing has seen its shares trade in a range from $61.33 to $77.83 over the past 52 weeks, but besides a dip in June, shares haven't been below $67 in 2012. Shares took a dip in September after the BAE-EADS merger plans were announced, but since that deal was scrapped, shares have been climbing. Investors should sit tight. Even at current prices, when the company's 2.4% dividend is added into the equation, your investment is still up for the year.

Caterpillar has had a slightly rougher year. Early in 2012, the stock was strong and climbing higher, hitting a top at $116 in late February before taking a long slide down for the rest of the year. Brief news from around the world, such as China's growth stimulus package that was announced in September, have helped the stock for short periods of time, but it soon slid down the hill. With growth slowing in China, the European debt crisis, and the recovery in the U.S. just puttering along, shareholders may have a little while longer to wait for the stock to turn around, but the 2% dividend should make the time pass a little faster.

Next we have Hewlett-Packard, and while we're talking PCs, just throw Intel into the mix. The PC market has been beaten and battered this year. The latest reports indicate that this will be the first year PC sales decline, ever. So, needless to say, the world's largest PC maker has taken it on the chin this year. To make matters worse, Meg Whitman recently told analysts that the turnaround for HP will take a few years. It may be time to sit this one out and let Whitman and her team perform some magic, without investors' money on the line.

So when PCs aren't selling, the chips that run the machines clearly aren't selling, either. Intel has taken a hit this year because of low demand for some of its products, and while the company has a number of revenue sources, none of them is currently as important as PC chips.

Finally, the Golden Arches have seen shares cut back so far this year. Analysts have even downgraded the No. 1 fast-food restaurant, because of high year-over-year comps. Higher possible food costs in the coming months have also been a concern for McDonald's shareholders. It is still unclear how much the drought in the Midwest will affect the company's margins, and because of that uncertainty, shares have been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride the past two months. At the end of the day, though, McDonald's is still No. 1, and if you want exposure in this sector, there really is no better place.

Foolishly investing
All investors need to make up their own mind on what stocks to buy, hold, or sell and, more importantly, when they should perform each one of those actions. The best way to make those decisions is to be as informed as possible and obtain as much knowledge about a particular company as you find. With that in mind, don’t wait any longer to find out if Intel is a buy at these reduced prices. Click here before it’s too late.

Matt Thalman has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel and McDonald's. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Intel and McDonald's. 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 Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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