The Dow's Biggest (Relative) Losers Today

Today was one heck of a ride for the major indices. The Dow Jones Industrials Average (INDEX: ^DJI) , S&P 500 (INDEX: ^GSPC) , and Nasdaq all popped more than 2% in early morning trading. They settled down a bit throughout the day to close up "only" 1.5%.

Talk about starting the new year off with a bang. But even in the most sterling of classes there are a few laggards -- those stocks that just didn't seem to get the memo about today's outperformance.

Who did what?
Today it's four such stragglers: Kraft Foods (NYS: KFT) , down -0.2%;McDonald's (NYS: MCD) , down -1.52%; The Travelers, down -0.3%, and Verizon (NYS: VZ) , down -1%.

Kraft started the day up but drifted downward, eventually turning negative in the early afternoon. Fortunately for investors, Kraft hit a 52-week high on Dec. 27 and is only a paltry 1.7% below that level today. The story for 2012 will be how Kraft handles its previously announced split into two companies. While a rough framework has been mocked up, the specifics haven't been totally revealed yet, but we can expect details by the second quarter of 2012. It is roughly assumed the Global Snacks Company will eke out the North American grocery unit on revenue. With regard to today's performance, nothing major to worry about.

The daily trajectory at McDonald's closely mirrored that of Kraft. The company opened by setting a new 52-week high of $101.59 and then fell in trading through the day. McDonald's remains a market darling and has returned more than 8,000% returns since 1980. I see no reason to believe the Golden Arches are coming down.

Similarly, Verizon opened high and fell later in the day. But, like McDonald's and Kraft, the stock flirted with 52-week highs today and is only marginally off from those levels. Goldman Sachs today downgraded Verizon to a buy rating, which falls in line with ratings from Jefferies Group and Stifel Nicolaus.

Taking a step back
While McDonald's, Verizon, and Kraft underperformed the Dow today, it's important to keep some perspective. All three are extremely close to their 52-week highs and don't give any strong reasons to be worried today.

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At the time thisarticle was published Austin Smith owns, andMotley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying, shares of McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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