3 Stocks You Need to Watch in Today's Dow Dance

Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) edged up 0.09% to 15,556 points, inching back toward Tuesday's all-time high. The S&P 500 managed almost three times the gain, pushing the index closer to the Dow's year-to-date leading position.

^DJI Chart

^DJI data by YCharts.

Cliffs Natural Resources (NYSE: CLF  ) shares have shot up 6% in premarket trading on news of the mining company's second-quarter earnings. Cliffs beat revenue estimates of $1.41 billion by $80 million, and adjusted EPS clocked in at $0.82, 34% above analyst estimates.

Wall Street wasn't aiming high with this corporation. Sales are down a seasonally adjusted 8.5%, while adjusted EPS plummeted 50% as mining companies continually find themselves between a rock and a hard place. But considering Cliff's newest report and Peabody Energy's (NYSE: BTU  ) earnings win earlier this week, it seems that mining companies aren't out of steam yet. Yesterday's report coincided with a new International Energy Outlook report predicting a 56% uptick in global energy use over the next three decades. Mining companies' share prices have trailed the Dow over the past 12 months, with Peabody down 37% and Cliffs lagging a whopping 78%.

^DJI Chart

^DJI data by YCharts.

Mr. Market may have overreacted, especially considering the international outlook in store for global companies like Cliffs and Peabody. Non-OECD countries are expected to increase energy consumption by 90% by 2040, with China alone doubling the U.S.' energy use in 2040.

Source: EIA.gov. 

Getting back to the Dow, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) was among the index's worst performers yesterday. Shares dropped 1.56% as the company continued to reel from a sales and earnings miss earlier this week. Caterpillar openly admitted that its short-term growth is nothing to love (2% this year), but if other better-than-expected natural-resources reports are any evidence, this latest sell-off may simply be the result of over-optimists (read: "China alpha bulls") finally opting out. For mining companies and Caterpillar alike, investors will need to keep a close watch on commodities prices in the coming months, as well as global growth in key expansion areas like China.

Health or wealth -- why not both?
Cliffs Natural Resources and Caterpillar shares could continue their adjustments today, but investors will also need to keep an eye on Ventas' (NYSE: VTR  ) 10 a.m. EDT earnings report. The health care REIT's shares have moved from 5% gains to a 12% drop over the last three months, and year-to-date gains clock in at 6.8% so far.

Despite lackluster stock-price performance, analysts are expecting an 8% sales boost, accompanied by a $0.07 increase in adjusted EPS to $1.02. With a 3.7% dividend and special REIT tax status, Ventas' recent stock performance may be a simple overvaluation correction as investors scramble for safer options in a global economic slump. The company still enjoys 96% ownership by institutional investors, and it has steadily increased its assets (and dividend) over the past decade, making it a potential match for long-term investors.

REITs likes Ventas depend on dividends to deliver value directly to shareholders -- and they're not the only ones. Dividend stocks can make you rich, and while they don't garner the notoriety of highflying growth stocks, they're also less likely to crash and burn. And over the long term, the compounding effect of the quarterly payouts, as well as their growth, adds up faster than most investors imagine. With this in mind, our analysts sat down to identify the absolute best of the best when it comes to rock-solid dividend stocks, drawing up a list in this free report of the only nine that fit the bill. To discover the identities of these companies before the rest of the market catches on, you can download this valuable free report by simply clicking here now.


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