The Dow Breaks a Record, Thanks to These Stocks

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) setting a new all-time closing high today, taking a moment to consider how far we have over the past few years is important. The last all-time high was set in 2007, just before the financial crisis, the credit squeeze, and the start of the Great Recession.

You could argue that from a number of standpoints, we're back to where we were in 2007. But although the major indexes are at the same price levels, stocks are much cheaper today than they were in 2007. The S&P 500 still has about 25 points to go until it breaks a new all-time high record. But back in 2007, the index had a price-to-earnings ratio above 65, while today it's only 17.5.  

The Dow set its record today by gaining 125 points, and it now sits at 14,253. The Nasdaq added 42 points, or 1.32%, and the S&P 500 put on another 0.96% today. With the Dow gaining that many points, a number of its components surely ended the day higher.

The Dow's winners
The Dow's best-performing component of the day was Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) , which saw its shares rise by 2.3%. Although the Dow has now broken its all-time high record, Cisco remains well below its all-time highs and fairly lower than the mid-$30 price range it traded in back during 2007. Even so, the networking giant is now within striking distance of its 52-week high, and investors seem confident that as the economy improves, so will Cisco's profits.

After falling 1.11% yesterday, shares of United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) ended today up 2.12%. The move higher followed U.S. Air Force Lt. General Christopher Bogdan's speech at a defense conference, where he reassured the audience that the F-35 fighter jet program is not in trouble. Last week, comments he made were apparently taken out of context. But today, he made it clear that while the Defense Department's most expensive program has had problems, the F-35 is still on track, and costs are beginning to come down. United Technologies subsidiary Pratt & Whitney is scheduled to provide 4,000 engines throughout the life of the program.  

Another stock that fell yesterday but posted a strong gain today was Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) . After dropping by 0.79% on Monday, shares rose by 2% today. Earlier today, the ISS, a well-known proxy advisory firm, released a statement recommending that HP shareholders vote against re-electing a number of the company's board members. Because of their roles in approving the ill-fated Autonomy acquisition, the ISS thinks Chairman Ray Lane, John Hammergen, and G. Kennedy Thompson should be removed from their seats. HP eventually wrote down $8.8 billion of the $10.3 billion it paid for Autonomy.

The massive wave of mobile computing has done much to unseat the major players in the PC market, including venerable technology names like Hewlett-Packard. However, HP's rapidly shifting its strategy under the new leadership of CEO Meg Whitman. But does this make HP one of the least-appreciated turnaround stories on the market, or is this a minor blip on its road to irrelevance? The Motley Fool's technology analyst details exactly what investors need to know about HP in our new premium research report. Just click here now to get your copy today.


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