The Dow's Top Stocks This Week

The Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new record high on Friday and Visa, Verizon, and United Health helped drive it there.

May 10, 2014 at 1:00PM
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) set another record closing level on Friday, ending the week at 16.583.34. The index was up just slightly this week in a fairly calm week by Wall Street standards. Interestingly, while the Dow was up the Nasdaq Composite was down for the week as a flight from high growth, high risk tech stocks continue. This has been a theme in 2014 and the blue chips of the Dow have been beneficiaries so far. This week, a few stocks stood out as the top stocks on the Dow.

Visa (NYSE:V) was the Dow's top stock this week, climbing 3.1%. The move came despite Russia's passing of a law that would require both Visa and MasterCard to put up cash as a deposit to maintain operations in the country. This was another response to U.S. sanctions on Russia, but I don't think there are many people who think the demands will last. Tensions between the U.S. and Russia eased some this week, and it's likely that long-term Visa will maintain its business in Russia, which accounts for 3%-4% of revenue.  

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Even losing its Russia business wouldn't be a back-breaker for Visa.

Verizon (NYSE:VZ) was up 2.9% this week on a couple of positive news items. DISH Network Chairman Charlie Ergen suggested that his company could be a buyout target for Verizon or another wireless company for the spectrum it owns. More importantly, House Republicans called for the unrestricted sale of airwaves. Proposed rules for an upcoming auction of low-frequency airwaves have suggested limiting Verizon's ability to buy the airwaves because it already has a large portion of the spectrum. Republicans suggest that this would be manipulating the market and favoring smaller players, asking the FCC to remove the limitations. If successful, Verizon could grow its dominant wireless position even further.  

Rounding out the top three is UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH), which was up 2.5% for the week. Recent announcements have put Obamacare signups at over 8 million and the uninsured rate is down to 13.4%, the lowest in six years. That's 2.6% lower than a year ago, and as consumers become more comfortable with the program, it will bring millions of consumers into the exchange marketplace. That's good for UnitedHealth Group, despite the fact that it focuses most of its attention on plans for businesses. Watch how the company adapts to the success of the exchanges, because this is now an opportunity UnitedHealth can't tiptoe around.

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Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Verizon Communications and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends MasterCard, UnitedHealth Group, and Visa and owns shares of MasterCard and Visa. 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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