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Dow Jones Surges as Apple Stock Slumps Despite New Products; Amazon Challenges Walmart; Microsoft Boosts Dividend

By Timothy Green – Sep 16, 2020 at 1:36PM

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All three stocks are down on a solid day for the Dow.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.11%) was the belle of the ball on Wednesday, surging 0.76% by 12:25 p.m. EDT even as the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite sank into the red. Tech stocks were struggling despite data software company Snowflake going public at a valuation that requires some serious mental gymnastics to justify.

Failing to rise with the Dow on Wednesday were Apple (AAPL 3.71%), Walmart (WMT -0.73%), and Microsoft (MSFT 4.69%). Apple stock didn't get a lift from recent product announcements, Walmart stock slipped following reports of a major push by Amazon (AMZN 7.38%) to build small warehouses across the country, and Microsoft stock was down despite a dividend increase.

Apple's lineup of iPads.

Image source: Apple.

Apple event fails to lift stock

Despite the major stock indexes rising on Wednesday, shares of tech giant Apple were in negative territory by early afternoon. This comes one day after Apple unveiled a slew of new products and services.

The Apple Watch Series 6 is the next iteration of the company's popular smartwatch. The device can measure blood oxygen levels, a first for the Apple Watch, and it comes with a faster processor than its predecessor. The Series 6 will start at $399, while the new low-cost Apple Watch SE will be priced at $279.

Apple also updated its iPad lineup. The new entry-level iPad is priced at $329 and comes with Apple's A12 bionic processor, which powered 2018's iPhone family. A new iPad Air is pricier at $599, but far more powerful. The higher-end tablet features Apple's latest A14 bionic chip, a version of which will power the next iPhones.

On top of new hardware, Apple rolled out some new subscription offerings. Apple Fitness+ will offer video fitness classes and integrate with the latest Apple Watch, while Apple One will bundle a variety of Apple's existing services.

Missing from the event were any details on Apple's upcoming 5G iPhones. Investors seemed underwhelmed by Apple's product launches -- the stock was down 1.5% by early Wednesday afternoon.

Amazon goes after Walmart

One big advantage Walmart has over e-commerce giant Amazon is its fleet of thousands of stores spread across the country. Those stores allow Walmart to promise same-day delivery of groceries and general merchandise as part of its recently launched Walmart+ membership service.

Amazon isn't taking the threat from Walmart lying down. Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Amazon plans to open 1,000 small delivery hubs in U.S. cities and suburbs in an effort to get products to customers faster.

While Amazon Prime promises two-day shipping on many items, one-day shipping on more than 10 million items, and same-day delivery in certain cities, increased demand due to the pandemic slowed down shipments and frustrated customers. Adding smaller shipping facilities should help ease the pressure on Amazon's infrastructure.

Walmart stock was down slightly early Wednesday afternoon on the Amazon news. Shares of the e-commerce giant were down around 0.6%.

Microsoft boosts dividend

Software and cloud giant Microsoft announced on Tuesday that it was increasing its quarterly dividend by 10%. The company declared a quarterly dividend of $0.56, up from a previous payment of $0.51, which is payable on Dec. 10 to shareholders of record on Nov. 19.

Microsoft has been thriving during the pandemic, buoyed by strong demand for PCs, cloud services, and collaboration software. Total revenue shot up 13% in the latest quarter, driven by 47% growth in its Azure cloud business and solid growth for both Windows and Office. While demand could slow as the economy continues to reel from the pandemic, there has been no sign of that thus far.

Shares of Microsoft were down around 0.4% by early Wednesday afternoon. The stock now sports a dividend yield of roughly 1.1% based on the upcoming payment.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Timothy Green has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft, short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon, and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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