While the market has been down every day since President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week, the Dow Jones industrial averages are still within 1.5 percent of the all-time high of 14,164.53, and the S&P 500 is within 3 percent of its record high of 1,565.15.
Those numbers may not mean much to the average investor, but all-time highs are benchmarks that put pressure on portfolio managers holding a lot of cash. They also convince some investors that the trend is bullish, but then a 5-10 percent pullback in the averages would not be surprising.
Two Town Crier “50” stocks generated news last week.
• Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO; $20.96) earnings per share increased 9 percent to 47 cents per share in the second quarter, topping the consensus by 3 cents.
The company reported that its product orders remained flat in the quarter. Revenue from its core router business fell 6 percent, and Europe and China continue to pose challenges.
Cisco, the hardware and software provider for IT services such as switches and routers, is angling to become the provider of all IT needs for companies in competition with IBM, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Oracle Corp. These companies are adding products and services for cloud computing, the growing trend.
The stock should offer above-average returns in the near future and move toward a low-risk profile. The yield on the dividend is 2.7 percent.
• Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT; $13.68) released its first-quarter results last week, listing $1.57 billion in net sales and a net profit of $69 million. Revenue was lower than last year, and the net was flat. However, the results topped analysts’ estimates.
Applied Materials anticipates that sales will reach between $1.81 billion and $1.96 billion in the current quarter, and earnings per share will total 9-15 cents for the period.
The Santa Clara-based company is one of the largest producers of chip manufacturing equipment. Sales of smartphones, tablets and other mobile computers are driving demand for equipment.
The share price Jan. 2 was $11.84, with a nice increase to $13.90, or 17 percent. The dividend of 36 cents indicates a yield of 2.60 percent.