What Stocks Do You Want In Your Stocking?

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Instead of getting a traditional Christmas gift this year would it be better to have some equities stuffed in your stocking? In the long run a few shares of stock will be more beneficial than that purple tie or cuff links you might get. 

A stock on many lists might be Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). Instead of an iPad that could be obsolete in a few years why not ask for the stock? As of the close of trading on Dec. 4 one share costs less than the model having 32GB of storage, Wi-Fi and Retina display. Since the original iPad was released on April 3, 2010 Apple shares have appreciated by 145%. 

Apple has refreshed all major product offerings in time for Christmas and could have a blowout quarter based upon projected sales of 45 million iPhones and 25 million iPads.

If you wanted a gift for the ages consider shares of The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO). The company has been around since the 1890's and has paid a dividend for 92 straight years. If you had owned the stock since 1992 it would have meant a 463% return, doubling the performance of the overall market.

Coca-Cola currently offers more than 500 different products and operates in almost every country on Earth. Its signature brand, Coke, is the most recognizable in history.

Another stalwart over the long-term has been Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). The consumer products and pharmaceutical giant has increased its dividend payment for 56 consecutive years and has consistently returned value to shareholders.

The maker of Band Aids and Tylenol is ranked as the world's most respected company according to a study documented in Barron's Magazine. It funds its growth with huge investments in research and development (last year it spent $5 billion). And the company is expanding its product line with acquisitions like the recently completed deal with Synthes. The stock is nearing an all-time high.

Another surprise under the tree this year could be extra dividend payments. Over 175 companies have announced either special dividends or payouts moved into this year. It's possible that the tax rate on dividends could be higher next year and these businesses are either looking out for the best interests of stockholders or their own insiders.

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) just announced that its April 2013 dividend will be moved into December. It will be added to the normal 4th quarter dividend and the combined payout will be $0.22.

The company has been growing earnings and revenue by over 10% a year on average for the past decade. The stock has followed suit, averaging an annual gain of 15% in that time. So you might want some American Eagle shares instead of getting a sweater from them.

Cruise ship operator Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) also announced a special dividend payment of $0.50 a share which will be made on December 28 in addition to the regular payment of $0.25 to be paid earlier in the month.

While revenues have been increasing slightly over the last few years Carnival has experienced a slowdown in earnings growth. The 2008 recession may have affected the company and it has been slow to recover.

When I wake up on Christmas morning I might see some stock certificates under the tree. What will you find there?

Mathman6577 owns shares of Apple, Johnson & Johnson, and The Coca-Cola Company. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Johnson & Johnson. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, American Eagle Outfitters, Johnson & Johnson, and The Coca-Cola Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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