The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping across the globe, and it's sent Wall Street into a bear market. Even the 30 blue chip stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrials (^DJI -0.11%) have come under pressure, and some of its components have lost more than half their value as the broader average is down more than 30% year to date in 2020.
But not every Dow stock has seen that magnitude of losses, and one lone holdout is actually up on the year. Below, we'll look at how Walmart (WMT -0.03%), Procter & Gamble (PG -0.39%), and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.32%) have defied the coronavirus and have helped shelter their shareholders from the worst of the stock market crash thus far.
Walmart has demonstrated its ability to weather stock market storms before. In the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, the stock market plunged, but Walmart's shares actually gained ground as the discount big-box retailer drew in more customers, who were struggling financially from tough economic times. Similarly, investors believe that Walmart will see more foot traffic once the COVID-19 outbreak runs its course and consumers resume their normal shopping activity, because the economic hit that many will suffer will lead them to seek the retail giant's bargain prices. That's how the stock is the only winner in the Dow so far in 2020.
From a business perspective, Walmart has made some smart moves that are serving it well now. Investing heavily in building out its e-commerce presence has put Walmart in a better position to deal with the impact of reduced hours in its stores. The company is also financially stronger than its smaller competitors, making it better able to endure a prolonged downturn. With consumers needing to come in for groceries, Walmart's stock could well continue to gain ground even if things get worse for the U.S. economy more broadly.
Procter & Gamble
Consumer staples stocks have a tendency to perform well during tough economic times. As your recent shopping experiences at your local store might remind you, people don't stop needing toilet paper regardless of how bad things get, and with Charmin (along with dozens of other well-known brands) under its corporate umbrella, Procter & Gamble plans to keep providing the household products people have to have.
The company does expect to suffer some damage from the coronavirus outbreak, especially as economic conditions in less prosperous nations across the globe worsen and hurt its growth. Yet with a strong balance sheet, rising cash flow, and efficient business operations, P&G is in a good place right now to take whatever the pandemic dishes out.
Johnson & Johnson
When you think of healthcare products in your home, Johnson & Johnson plays a prominent role. With brands like Tylenol and Band-Aid, Johnson & Johnson has become a giant in consumer healthcare. The company is taking steps (including boosting production capacity) to make sure that supplies of its products remain available in light of rising demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet J&J is actually a vast conglomerate of different healthcare segments. The company's pharmaceutical division has been its most important lately, with growth coming from newly approved treatments and a healthy pipeline of promising prospects down the road. Competition is fierce, and Johnson & Johnson won't finish first in every aspect of its business every time, but shareholders have confidence the company will emerge stronger in the long run.
Leading the Dow
As investors bemoan the end of the bull market, it's still good to see some stocks holding their own better than others. Keep a close eye on Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Walmart to see if they keep coming up with ways to fight back against the negative impacts of the coronavirus.