The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) is just about the most elite club on the market. The 30 component stocks made their way in through decades of rock-solid performance, a sterling business reputation, and a certain je ne sais quoi that sets the cream apart from the crop.
But even a top-shelf collection like this one contains a wealth of paradoxes. For example, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) is a traditional value and income stock – with a nearly nonexistent dividend and stellar share price growth. The megabank is still clawing its way back from the brink of oblivion, thanks to the 2008 subprime implosion.
AT&T (NYSE: T ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) pay the richest dividend yields on the Dow right now – but they are among the worst when it comes to growing those payouts. That's a truly mature industry at work. Meanwhile, nobody boosts dividend policies quite like insurance giant UnitedHealth (NYSE: UNH ) but its yield still ranks among the thinnest on the Dow. That's a nice problem to have, since it stems from a rapidly rising share price.
Bank of America and Alcoa look downright pricey if you focus on their trailing P/E ratios. But turn your eye to forward estimates instead, and their nosebleed valuations drop to eminently reasonable 12 and 15 times forward estimates, respectively. If analysts are correct about the next-year prospects of these beaten-down stocks, then it takes more than a pesky economy crisis to keep a good stock down.