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Dow 2009 Winners & Losers

American Express rises more than 120% in 2009, while Exxon Mobil falls 14%.

NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -- The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

certainly had its ups and downs in 2009, falling to its lowest level in 12 years during a panic in March before rallying through the 10,000 level to finish the year with an impressive 20% gain.

Much like a year-long chart of the Dow has its valleys and peaks, so does the list of the blue-chip index's 30 components. Some finished 2009 at their highest levels in more than a year, while others are still struggling to recover from the March lows. Here are the top five gainers and decliners, in percentage terms, of the Dow's constituents for 2009.

WINNERS

American Express -- Up 119.95%


(Click on chart for more detail).

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

was the best-performing component on the Dow in percentage terms by a long shot, owing much of the surge in share price to the company's repayment of bailout funds after the government's stress tests showed it would not need to raise new funds. In June, the company sold $500 million in stock in a public offering to help pay back part of the $3.4 billion in funds.

AmEx also benefitted from significant improvements in its monthly credit card metrics, with the charge-off rate dropping to 7.6% in November from 9.31% in February.

Microsoft -- Up 59.26%


(Click on chart for more detail).

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

investors saw plenty of green on their computer screens in 2009, a welcome change from the dreaded

Blue Screen of Death

. While the year started off on a sour note, with

Microsoft

announcing job cuts totaling 5,000, 2009 saw the company put the Windows Vista mess behind it with the October release of

Windows 7

, a revamped operating system that garnered popular reviews with tech critics.

In addition, the software giant opened its first brick-and-mortar retail stores in 2009 as a response to the success of

Apple's

(AAPL) - Get Report

popular chain of elegantly designed stores.

IBM -- Up 57.52%


(Click on chart for more detail)

IBM

(IBM) - Get Report

spent much of 2009 continuing to shift its focus onto high-margin software and services in recent quarters, a strategy that paid off with a 56.1% rally in share prices during the year. In September,

IBM

spoke in bullish tones about 2010 as well, saying it expects a profit of between $10 and $11 a share, and is "well ahead of pace" on its 2010 road map.

Big Blue was also reported to be chasing

Sun Microsystems

(JAVA)

in early 2009 before

Oracle

(ORCL) - Get Report

swooped in with a $7.4 billion bid for the company.

Cisco Systems -- Up 48.34%


(Click on chart for more detail)

Cisco Systems

(CSCO) - Get Report

ended 2009 in hot pursuit of Norwegian videoconferencing specialist

Tandberg

, but really the company spent much of the year in acquisition mode. Cisco made a total of seven acquisitions, which offer it market opportunities in cable, security, mobility, collaboration and data centers.

Comments from Cisco's Chairman and CEO John Chambers, though, will likely be better remembered than its acquisitions in 2009, as Wall Street always perks up when he offers his view of the economy.

When Cisco reported earnings in early November, Chambers noted that he saw a "clear tipping point" in the economy, adding that he views "the improving economic outlook, combined with solid execution on our growth strategy, as creating unparalleled opportunity to drive more value into the core of the network."

3M -- Up 45.72%


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3M

(MMM) - Get Report

may not be the sexiest stock on the Dow, but investors should still be happy with a 44.5% gain on the year. The company blew past Wall Street's forecasts with its second- and third-quarter earnings results, although 3M warned in December that fiscal 2009 earnings would fall below consensus targets.

Still, 3M was an attractive international play on China's recovery in 2009, as the company sees nearly two-thirds of its revenue from international markets. Several analysts upgraded the stock late in the year on expectations of higher revenue and margin growth due to 3M's international expansion.

LOSERS

Exxon Mobil -- Down 13.85%


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Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report

was the weakest of the Dow stocks in 2009, which comes as a surprise considering the 80% surge in crude prices, the biggest gain for oil in a decade. However, Exxon fell short of revenue targets in the third quarter, and missed the Thomson Reuters average earnings consensus mark for the first three quarters of the year.

Exxon was in the headlines when it made a big bet in December on the U.S. natural gas sector, paying a 25% premium to acquire

XTO Energy

(XTO)

TheStreet Recommends

for $41 billion in stock. Exxon said the deal will "enhance its position in the development of unconventional natural gas and oil resources."

General Electric -- Down 5.25%


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At the start of 2009,

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

was grouped together with embattled financial companies like

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

and fellow Dow component

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

, due to troubles with its

GE Capital

. While only one of GE's several business units, GE Capital was in the spotlight due to reports of a large shortfall in capital.

GE underwent a facelift in late 2009, surrendering control of its

NBC Universal

unit to

Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Report

in December for $6.5 billion in cash.

Wal-Mart -- Down 3.14%


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Wal-Mart's

(WMT) - Get Report

weak performance in 2009 defied the logic that it stood to benefit from consumers flocking to the low-cost, low-price retailer during the worst recession in years. While the world's largest retailer's strategy of slashing prices lured shoppers into its stores, revenue for the first three quarters of the year failed to exceed the Thomson Reuters average analyst targets.

Wal-Mart

said comparable sales fell 0.4% during the third quarter as the sales environment "continued to be difficult." This came even as customer traffic was up during the quarter.

Of course, igniting a price war with

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

over books and DVDs left Wal-Mart -- and its shareholders -- with several bruises by the end of 2009. To add insult to injury, rival

Target

(TGT) - Get Report

saw shares gain 41% for the year.

Verizon -- Down 1.42%


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Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

, like most telecom stocks, would like to forget 2009 ever happened. The telecom sector consistently trailed the broader market indices this year, as inquiries by the Federal Communications Commission, which are meant to take a closer look at the practices of the wireless industry, spooked investors in Verizon and other telecom companies. Consumers may like the idea of more choices and lower prices, but telecom stocks certainly do not.

However, 2010 may be a year to remember for Verizon, as it has its targets aimed squarely on rival

AT&T

. Verizon launched a media campaign late in the year that argued AT&T's 3G wireless service coverage map is inferior to its own. In addition, persistent rumors of

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

dumping AT&T and bringing either the iPhone or a new

tablet

device to Verizon will make 2010 an interesting year for the telco shop.

Procter & Gamble -- Down 0.73%


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Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

proved that even a pretty darn good year doesn't shine through in a company's share price. The stock fell just over 1% in 2009, even though the company turned in three better-than-expected profitable quarters in 2009. However, as the ultimate defensive play during a recession, P&G's share price suffered as it reported a sales decline of 3% for the fiscal 2009 year ended June 30.

The stock did make a comeback following an August deal that saw

P&G

unload its prescription-drug business to

Warner Chilcott

(WCRX)

for $3.1 billion in cash. Later in the year, P&G bought

Sara Lee's

(SLE)

Ambi Pur air care brand for $470 million.