Move over, Caterpillar. With its rally this week, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) stock jumped into the Dow's top spot, and is now leading all 30 components in the index on year-to-date gains. 

Intel Lead

Source: YCharts.

In the video below, Fool contributor Demitrios Kalogeropoulos discusses two trends that have helped the tech giant's stock blow past rivals this year. The biggest one has been the dramatic rebound in Intel's business outlook. Expectations were low heading into 2014 after years of softening results. But, far from the flat revenue and earnings that management forecast at the beginning of the year, the company now expects to post 5% annual revenue growth and a three-percentage-point improvement in profitability.

Another trend that deserves credit for the stock's rally is Intel's increasing cash returns to shareholders, Demitrios argues. The company generated close to a record $21 billion in operating cash flow last year. And with business trends improving, that figure can only rise in 2014. The extra cash has given management plenty of ammunition to boost dividend payments while ramping up spending on stock repurchases. Those buybacks should help goose per-share earnings in the quarters ahead, while also making it easier to fund any future dividend hikes. Watch the video below for Demitrios' full take.

 

Demitrios Kalogeropoulos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.