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Dow 55,000? It's Closer Than You Think

Stocks in this article: AAPLGRMN MA T SPY

The dividend yield of the S&P 500, for instance, is higher post-2008 than it's been since 1991.

>>5 Stocks Ready for a Dividend Boost in 2012

Since the market crash of 2008, stock prices have been pushing higher, but earnings have been moving even faster over that same period. Ultimately, that means that there are still some bargains to be had for investors willing to search them out.

An Action to Take for Dow 55,000

The big question you're probably wondering by now is: When, already?

In the past examples of "death of equities rallies," the returns were slow going, measured in decades rather than months or years. But this month marks the four-year mark since the floor fell out of the stock market in October 2008. We're entering the territory where some of the biggest gains have historically been made.

For that to happen, a good earnings season this quarter is only part of the battle. The other part is getting investors to think in terms of return on capital again, instead of return of capital. For that, it's just a matter of time.

Right now, investors are overweight in flight to quality investments like treasuries. But those investments are atrophying away under the low-rate, higher interest rate environment that we're currently knee-deep in. It doesn't take hyperinflation to create a toxic environment for low-risk assets, and the current conditions prove it.

>>5 Blue-Chip Stocks to Buy to Beat the S&P

Stocks may not be perfect, but when treasury investors can't take the pain anymore, they're going to have to turn to stocks again. When that happens, the flow of funds will send the stock rally moving in earnest.

As contrarian investors know, though, those "risk-off" investors will necessarily miss out on the lion's share of the gains. So how can you make sure you get in early? Focusing your portfolio on a few places now, while stocks are still out of favor, helps.

The old adage goes that everyone looks like a genius during a bull market. That means that index ETFs such as the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) and the PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ) do really well in this scenario. But get a little more selective, and you'll boost that investment IQ. Here are two of areas to focus on.

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