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1 Big Lesson From the Dividend Madness

For more than a month, there's been a rush to declare dividends before the fiscal cliff and increased taxes set in. But the market's reaction to these dividends has been one of overexuberance. In just the last week, Almost Family (Nasdaq: AFAM  ) , Safeway (NYSE: SWY  ) , and Western Refining (NYSE: WNR  ) saw their stocks pop simply on the news of a special dividend or an earlier dividend date.

Dividends, however, don't change the value of a company. It is simply a transfer of cash from a company to its owners. 

This gives us an opportunity to step back and take a look at a company's balance sheet as a source of value along with ongoing earnings. So, when you look at stocks such as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO  ) , or Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , don't forget their cash. It carries a lot of value. And don't get burned by buying a special dividend when it's announced. The euphoria usually wears off in a few days. 

Once a high-flying tech darling, Cisco is now on the radar of value-oriented dividend and cash lovers. Get the lowdown on the routing juggernaut in this Motley Fool premium report. Our report also has you covered with a full year of free analyst updates to keep you informed as its story changes, so click here now to read more.

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Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
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Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you

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