It's been an interesting year so far for the market with alternating short-term views on the direction of the economy gaining precedence among investors. This has caused volatility in the market and kept it in a fairly narrow trading range year to date, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 1.32% through early March. Despite the conflicted consensus among investors on the economy, there are several stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average that outperformed and provided investors with a nice return. (Learn the basic tenets that helped this famous investor earn his fortune. See Pick Stocks Like Peter Lynch.)

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Definitely Not Dogs
Boeing (NYSE:BA) is up 26.4% since the start of 2010, and is the best performing stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average so far. This aerospace stock has drifted higher all year on the back of optimism on future orders of planes and several upgrades from analysts covering the stock. Boeing also beat analyst estimates when it reported earnings in late January 2009, $1.77 vs. $1.36 for the fourth quarter 2009.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) is up 10.96% year to date, and the company finally got a new CEO to replace the retiring Ken Lewis. Brian Moynihan started in January 2010, after being in charge of the consumer and small business banking business for Bank of America. No one can envy Moynihan since the bank he is running is ground zero for political heat over the bailout and excess bonuses for Wall Street.

Home Depot (NYSE:HD) was down for the year until the start of February, when the stock began to climb sharply higher. The company seemed to benefit from improved optimism regarding retailers in general, fed by recent reports from the industry and government that show sales and confidence returning. Home Depot also reported better than expected earnings in its most recent quarter, and a positive same store sales figure as well. The stock is up almost 10% since the start of 2010.

Travelers (NYSE:TRV) is up more than 8% year to date, and did it the old fashioned way - by turning in a large upside earnings surprise in its fourth quarter report. The company reported $2.12 earnings per share versus analyst estimates of $1.49. This profit was led by a lack of catastrophic losses in the quarter and a rebound in its investment portfolio.

General Electric (NYSE:GE) also reported a nice earnings surprise when it released fourth quarter 2009 earnings - 28 cents per share versus the 26 cents per share that analysts were estimating. Management also gave positive commentary on the environment for its businesses, empowering investors further. The stock is up 8.71% year to date.

The Bottom Line
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up only a smidgen year to date, but some stocks have rewarded loyal investors a much higher return as confidence slowly returns to the equity market. (Find out the difference between a company capable of surviving a share-price beating and one that cannot. To learn more, read Finding Profit In Troubled Stocks.)

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Tickers in this Article: BA, BAC, HD, TRV, GE

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