The Dow's Top Stocks This Week

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

It was another solid week for the stock market, highlighted by a better-than-expected jobs report on Friday. The Department of Labor said the economy added 204,000 jobs in October, which was surprisingly strong given the long government shutdown in the month. Continued strong earnings helped give investors confidence and by the end of the week the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) was up 0.94%.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) was the biggest winner this week, gaining 6.3%. The company's short list of CEO candidates was leaked mid-week, and investors were at least happy to be closer to finding a long-term leader. Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was on the list, which isn't surprising since he was a key to Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia. If he gets the job, he reportedly wants to bring Office to mobile devices and may even divest the Bing search engine. The other big name on the list is Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who has done a masterful job turning around the auto giant. There's still no final decision, but for the time being, investors are happy to be closer to a decision.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO  ) was the second best performer on the Dow, gaining 4.2%. The company announced another "spin-in" acquisition, this time of Insieme. Spin-ins describe a situation when Cisco funds a start-up and then acquires the company later on. Insieme was funded with $100 million in cash in April of last year and buying the 16% of the company Cisco doesn't already own will cost up to $863 million.  

Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) was up 3.5% this week on speculation that the company may eventually be broken into smaller pieces. CEO Ken Frazier said he was evaluating a possible spinoff of the company's animal health and consumer businesses, which may generate a higher premium outside the larger company. Pfizer is moving in the same direction and may lay the groundwork for Merck. Fundamentally, this doesn't change the company, but it could give investors a more focused company to buy instead of the diverse businesses owned by Merck.

The long-term view
Short-term, things like CEO rumors or spinoff speculation can push and pull on stocks but long-term investors should be focused on great businesses who generate profits over a long period of time. If you're looking for some long-term investing ideas, you're invited to check out The Motley Fool's brand-new special report, "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so simply click here now and get your copy today.


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