The following video is from this week's Motley Fool Money radio show, with Chris Hill, Ron Gross, James Early, and Joe Magyer. Caterpillar and 3M, two of the so-called "bellwether stocks," reported solid earnings this week as both companies saw their quarterly profits rise. In this segment, the guys analyze the relative importance of "bellwether stocks" and what investors should glean from them. As the guys offer their opinions, Joe shares a surprising reason why Republic Services and Waste Management are indicators of the overall strength of the economy.

While both Republic Services and Waste Management pay a dividend, neither stock is exactly trading at a steep discount. Investors looking for dividend-paying stocks trading at bargain prices should check out The Motley Fool's free report "2 Dirt Cheap Stocks With HUGE Dividends." You can get analysis of a market leader in payment systems and a high-yielding energy company by accessing this report. It won't be available forever, so click here -- it's free.

Chris Hill owns no shares of any of the companies mentioned. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Waste Management, Republic Services, and 3M, writing covered calls on Waste Management, and creating a diagonal call position in 3M. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.