What the Dow Jones Index Lost by Replacing 3 Tickers

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The Dow Jones (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) index made a huge change in September. Three Dow tickers were shown the door to make room for three fresh names. With two months of market history in the books, the three former Dow Jones members have absolutely crushed their replacements.

Behold the mighty performance of the three old Dow tickers since the changeover:

AA Chart

AA data by YCharts.

All three have beaten the reformed Dow Jones index by a wide margin. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) is handling its turnaround efforts with surprising aplomb, beating analyst targets on both the top and bottom lines last week. HP shares have more than doubled over the last year and gained 82% in 2013. It's still a work in progress, and HP shares have lost more than half their value since the Mark Hurd scandal unfolded in 2010. But the Dow has missed out on more than 40 easy points in two months by getting rid of HP.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) has soared in recent weeks. Sector-wide gains have lifted every major bank since Nov. 8, when strong employment numbers showed that the government shutdown couldn't kill the American economy. But Bank of America jumped further and faster than the other megabanks, because the company's troubled balance sheet makes for a riskier investment than other banks. So bad banking news really hurt Bank of America -- and good sector tidings tend to help this stock more than its peers.

Bank of America would have added at least 15 points to the Dow Jones in the last two months if given the chance -- not as impressive as HP's 40-point spread, but still a serious cache.

Lastly, Alcoa (NYSE: AA  ) likes to surge on much of the same economic news as Bank of America. The banks supply capital to support major construction and infrastructure projects when governments and large corporations can afford them; Alcoa sends in building materials to get the job done.

Alcoa's shares have soared higher than Bank of America's on the recently improving world economy, but its share price is much lower. That's why the Dow only missed out on roughly nine points by sending Alcoa packing. The smaller they come, the less of a difference they make.

Making a Dow-style portfolio out of these three stocks on Sept. 23 would have returned 21% so far. That's an annualized run rate of a staggering 160%. Compare this to the new Dow's 4.6% returns (still a healthy 25% annualized return), or 4.8% (26% run rate) for the three newcomers to the index.

Yes, it's a little early to conclude that the Dow Jones should have stuck to its guns. But the overhaul certainly hasn't been a slam-dunk success, and investors who stayed with the booted Dow stocks have generally seen more thick than thin so far.

Stay tuned for a look at the other side of the Dow makeover -- the one that makes the Dow Jones steering committee look incredibly smart.

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