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Despite Positive News, "The World's Greatest Retirement Portfolio" Isn't Getting Much Love

By Brian Stoffel - Apr 22, 2013 at 8:04PM

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Worries about the long term at Intuitive Surgical, combined with Apple jitters, keep investors cautious.

Two years ago, I picked 10 stocks that I'd be putting $40,000 of my own money behind and attempting to hold for at least three years. This has been, and will continue to be, the most honest and transparent way that I can try to help the world invest better: by honestly and openly discussing what I do with my own portfolio.

So far, the original $40,000 investment is worth $50,880 -- or $1,520 more than if I had just invested it in the S&P 500. That's pretty good, but it's interesting to note that despite a week of pretty solid reports from companies in the portfolio, the needle didn't move much overall. Here are the five companies that did the most to lead to such an effect.

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 1.16%)
Most of the time, when a company handily beats expectations for revenue and earnings, its stock gets a pretty nice bump. Such was not the case, however, for Intuitive Surgical, maker of the daVinci Surgical Robotic system.

That's because concerns over lower-than-expected guidance, and -- more importantly, over the long term -- possible changes in how the machine is used for hysterectomies are making investors take pause and reevaluate their investments. Read here to see why I'm taking a wait-and-see approach to the situation.

Google (GOOGL 2.37%)
Another quarter, another solid report from the world's leading search engine and most oft-visited website. Overall, revenue was up 31%. When you think about the size of Google, you might think that there's not much growth left. But when the company can post that kind of revenue bump -- even if its Motorola acquisition helped -- it shows that this assumption could easily be wrong.

Not surprisingly, earnings were up by less (a more modest 15%) as CEO Larry Page continues to invest heavily in the future of the company. With him at the helm, I'm more than willing to take that trade-off, and so is the market, as the stock was up following the report.

Coca-Cola (KO 3.08%)
From one perspective, there was a lot that might make an investor worry from Coke's latest report: Both revenue and earnings were down, and the company reported that sales of sweetened, carbonated beverages (soda) continued to trend downward in developed areas of the world.

And yet, the stock enjoyed a nice 5% pop following this announcement. That's because the numbers exceeded what many expected, and the company announced a plan to refranchise its bottling and distribution arrangements, which should allow it to save money on overhead costs while still being able to design a universal model to improve efficiency.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 2.04%)
This medical conglomerate had news that investors were pleased with on many fronts. Sales of over-the-counter medications like Tylenol and Motrin were up a solid 14%, helping reverse a negative trend caused by product recalls over the past few years.

The company's pharmaceutical division also did well, growing revenue by 10.4% on the strong performance of a number of different prescription medications. And revenue at the medical devices division, which focuses mainly on selling equipment to hospitals, was up 10.2%. Overall, the market was pleased with all the news, and the stock was up for the week.

Apple (AAPL 4.01%)
Finally, we have the one stock that really dragged the portfolio down. The interesting thing is that there wasn't any substantial news from Cupertino that would necessitate a 9% drop.

Instead, I think a lot of investors are worried that Apple's earnings, which are due on Tuesday, are going to disappoint. Personally, I can understand why some are worried -- there hasn't been a release of any groundbreaking product since Steve Jobs was in charge of the pipeline. But at today's prices, I also don't have any intention to sell right now.

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Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$143.11 (4.01%) $5.52
Alphabet Inc. Stock Quote
Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL
$2,229.76 (2.37%) $51.60
The Coca-Cola Company Stock Quote
The Coca-Cola Company
KO
$62.86 (3.08%) $1.88
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$179.44 (2.04%) $3.59
Intuitive Surgical, Inc. Stock Quote
Intuitive Surgical, Inc.
ISRG
$221.61 (1.16%) $2.54

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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