The following video is part of our "Motley Fool Conversations" series, in which health-care editor/analyst David Williamson and technology and media editor/analyst Andrew Tonner discuss topics across the investing world.

As part of the Motley Fool Madness series, Andrew and David go head-to-head analyzing two Dow titans of industry. In today's showdown, software giant Microsoft faces off against big pharma member Merck. Microsoft offers investors a lot to like with its strong balance sheet and the soon-to-be-released Windows 8. At the same time, Merck enjoys a diversified portfolio of drugs, and although the patent cliff will hit it hard, Merck's pipeline looks poised to pick up the slack. However, looking ahead, which company has a greater catalyst for growth? Andrew and David present their arguments and our all-star team of analysts ultimately makes the call on the better Dow stock for the next 12 months.

Data continue to show that people are chronic undersavers for retirement. We tend to underestimate how much we'll need and overestimate how much we'll make in later years. Don't be stuck putting off your retirement dreams just because you didn't read our special free report: "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." The report won't be available forever, so we invite you to enjoy a free copy today. You can access it by clicking here.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.