It was an up and down week for Wall Street, as economic data held back a rally early in the week. An index that measures homebuilder confidence fell lower than expected, and so did a consumer confidence reading. With consumers accounting for 70% of the economy and the housing market a major driver of employment, these weren't encouraging reports, but as housing recovers, there will be ups and downs, so I see this as a cyclical downswing.
At the end of the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) fell 0.56%, and 18 of 30 components were down during the week.
The top stocks on the Dow
Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) was the clear winner on the Dow this week, climbing 5.6%. It wasn't as if Cisco's earnings report blew the doors off, but it wasn't as bad as expected, with revenue down only 5%. The real hope comes from guidance, which suggests that Cisco's days of declining sales may soon be coming to an end. Next quarter's sales should be down only 1%-3%, and if new products and emerging markets continue to grow, Cisco could begin growing within the year. For a company with 40% of its market cap in cash, that presents a good value for investors.
Travelers (NYSE:TRV) was the second best stock, climbing 1.4% this week. The only real driver was an upgrade to "buy" by analysts at Guggenheim, who added a $117 price target. Travelers has done a good job raising margins this year to overcome weak investing opportunities in the bond market, which is normally where insurance companies get their income. As interest rates rise, that sets the company up well for the future.
Rounding out the top three is Verizon (NYSE:VZ), which added a number of big-time investors in 2014. Warren Buffett, Dan Loeb, and John Paulson all added positions that were recently disclosed and that gave smaller investors a catalyst to buy. In a market that often looks overvalued, Verizon's 11 P/E ratio and 4.4% dividend yield is extremely attractive and is cheap for a business with such a large competitive moat. I think this is one of the top stocks on the market, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it be one of the Dow's top stocks in 2014.
Dividends are hot in 2014
The smartest investors know that dividend stocks simply crush their non-dividend-paying counterparts over the long term. That's beyond dispute. They also know that a well-constructed dividend portfolio creates wealth steadily, while still allowing you to sleep like a baby. Knowing how valuable such a portfolio might be, our top analysts put together a report on a group of high-yielding stocks that should be in any income investor's portfolio. To see our free report on these stocks, just click here now.
Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Cisco Systems and Verizon Communications. The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems. 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.