10 Dow Dogs That Are Barking for Gains

BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- For the last two decades, the " Dogs of the Dow" has been one of the most widely circulated investment strategies out there, offering a individual investors with simple formula to beat the market: Simply buy the 10 highest-yielding Dow stocks at the start of each year, and hold on.

So should you be buying the dogs in 2012?

When Michael O'Higgins introduced his strategy in 1991, it took the market by storm. Backtesting showed that the Dogs of the Dow strategy significantly beat the broad market from the 1920s on. The justification was that the big names of the Dow don't kowtow to market conditions, so their high dividends reflect strong businesses trading cheaply. But the strategy got a black eye during the 1990s, when it trailed the market by a significant clip.

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So should you be buying these names, or have the Dogs of the Dow lost their bite?

It shouldn't have been a huge surprise that the Dogs of the Dow failed to beat the market during the bull run of the 1990s. During the tech bubble, staid Dow names couldn't possibly move as much as the more volatile tech names that were gaining increasing weight in market indices. While some market watchers have written off the Dogs strategy as a case of data mining bias gone awry, the fundamental argument for buying high-yielding Dow stocks negates at least part of that argument.

The timing element of the Dogs strategy can be thrown out -- January isn't perennially the best time to buy stocks. So can the number of stocks in the mix. While the diversification aspect of 10 stocks is great, these names are defensive by their nature, so picking a smaller kennel of stocks isn't necessarily a bad option. But the strategy itself still holds water, and in the last couple of years, the results show it.

The Dogs of the Dow returned 20.5% in 2010 and 16.3% in 2011, dramatically outperforming the broad market both years. Today, we'll take an analyst's look at the 10 Dogs of the Dow stocks.

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