Three Best Dow Stocks for 2010

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Investing in companies that are members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average isn't going to make anyone rich. If that were the case, the U.S. would swell with millionaires, and investment managers would be out of work.

Dow stocks are too big and widely traded for investors to find deep value that others have missed. In a way, the 30 companies are the stock market. Stocks such as Wal-Mart ( WMT), Microsoft ( MSFT) and General Electric ( GE) rarely beat indexes by leaps and bounds. They can, however, offer stability after a year in which U.S. stocks fell by more than half from their peak and then rocketed more than 60% from a low in March.

Dow cornerstones provide a stable base and offer a fair amount of current income because most member companies pay relatively large dividends. Both AT&T ( T) and Verizon ( VZ) pay dividends that yield over 5%, more than that of the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond.

Here are three Dow stocks that could serve as a backbone and a growth catalyst for a portfolio. America most likely will see cautious optimism return this year after the deepest recession in 80 years. International diversification is key, since emerging markets are projected by economists to outstrip U.S. growth.

Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ): Merck ( MRK) and Pfizer ( PFE), other pharmaceutical companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, don't have much going on outside of the drug game. Drugs represent about a third of Johnson & Johnson's business. With a strong consumer-products division and a medical-device unit that makes everything from contact lenses to joint replacements, Johnson & Johnson is insulated from the disastrous risk of a weak drug pipeline.

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