Why buy stocks on the Dow? Because Dow companies are industry leaders, and these dominant companies are surefire bets for continued growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.71%) is an index of 30 top companies in various industries that give investors a quick peek into the state of the stock market at any given moment. It hit an all-time high of 29,551 in February, but then crashed with the economy in March.
The index made headlines a few weeks ago when it booted three of its components, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, and Raytheon Technologies, and replaced them with Salesforce.com, Amgen, and Honeywell International. But the Dow makes news every day for investors who use it as an indicator of the broader market.
All of the stocks in the Dow are leaders in their fields, but not all of them are coronavirus-proof. The Dow is down almost 5% year to date as of this writing, but Walmart (WMT 0.18%) and Home Depot (HD 1.19%) are Dow stocks that are up, as their products and services are in demand even through COVID-19. Let's see why.
Providing people with essentials
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, with close to 11,500 stores globally and almost 5,000 in the U.S. About 265 million people make purchases there every week, and about 100 million unique visitors come by walmart.com every month. The company's annual revenue of $524 billion trounces every competitor, including rival Amazon.com, whose annual revenue came in at $280 billion in 2019.
While other businesses closed during lockdowns or saw falling sales, Walmart had some of its best quarters.
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Like its competitors, Amazon and Target (TGT 0.51%), Walmart benefited from small businesses closing down during lockdowns, so that growth may be slowing as the economy begins its recovery. But Walmart is the undisputed leader in the industry, growing its huge presence globally, and investors shouldn't underestimate how much it can still expand. It currently serves 27 countries, and its limited presence within many of them means more room to grow. And then there's the rest of the world to conquer.
As Amazon attempts to get into storefronts, with the opening of its Go and Fresh stores, Walmart is digging deeper into digital, with the launch of Walmart+, a subscription delivery service that challenges Amazon Prime. Digital is on the rise, growing 93% in the second quarter ending July 31. Walmart is also teaming up with Oracle to allow TikTok to continue operating in the U.S., another potential source of revenue generation. Walmart stock is up 15% year to date, and it's also a Dividend Aristocrat.
Helping build better homes
When The Home Depot (HD 1.19%) came onto the scene as the first big box home improvement retailer, it recognized a need for selling everything from screws to full building materials and furnishings. Customers responded, and stores grew to a current 2,293 in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The home improvement giant showed its resilience during the pandemic as sales shot up more than 23% in the quarter ended Aug. 2. The industry in general benefited from people staying home and using their stimulus checks on home improvement projects, and Home Depot was poised to gain as it recently finished a huge overhaul of its digital operations. It invested $1.2 billion in distribution channels in a program started in 2017. It also now offers a broad assortment of purchasing options such as buy online and pickup in store and same-day delivery, which it's in the process of upgrading to reach 90% of the U.S. population.
The company faces competition from Lowe's, which has seen extraordinary growth over the past few months, and it will also experience a slowdown as people get out of their houses and back to work. But the company is fully stocked with its own improvements that should keep it heading in the right direction. The stock is up 23% year to date as of this writing, and it recently received an upgrade from analysts.