The 124-year-old Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.41%) made history last week. After briefly tumbling below 19,000 during the depths of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-induced bear market in March, the iconic index closed above 30,000 for the first time. It's a psychologically important accomplishment in an otherwise topsy-turvy year.
But just because the Dow Jones is hitting new highs, it doesn't mean opportunistic investors can't find value within the 30-stock index. There are currently three Dow stocks that look to be nothing short of screaming buys.
Although Visa (V -0.28%) is just a stone's throw away from an all-time high, it's a dominant payment processor that always seems to deliver for patient long-term investors.
The beauty of the Visa business model is that it's designed to grow with the U.S. and global economy. Even though it's susceptible to economic contractions and recessions like pretty much every other financial services company, periods of contraction and recession are often measured in months. Comparatively, periods of expansion and bull markets are usually multiyear events. A bet on Visa is simply a bet on the U.S. and global economy expanding.
Visa actually improves its odds of long-term success by not being lured into lending like some of its peers. With the company strictly sticking to the payment-processing side of the equation, it avoids the inevitable rise in loan delinquencies that coincide with economic contractions and recessions. With no direct liability to poor credit quality, Visa regularly maintains a profit margin north of 50%.
It's also holds the lion's share of credit card network purchase volume in the No. 1 market for consumption in the world, the United States. In the nine years following the Great Recession, Visa expanded its share of U.S. credit card network purchase volume by more than 9 percentage points to 53%. That's over 30 percentage points higher than the next-closest competitor. What's crystal clear is Visa is the most-trusted name in payment facilitation among U.S. merchants.
Visa's dominance means it's never going to be a cheap stock, in the traditional sense of the term. But this outperformance also means it's a screaming buy, as long as you have a long-term investing horizon.
Walgreens Boots Alliance
Whereas Visa never seems to be all that far away from a new all-time high, the same can't be said for pharmacy giant Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA 1.47%), which is near an eight-year low.
The big concern for Walgreens is increasing competition in the pharmacy space. It already has to contend with the likes of CVS Health and Rite Aid, and will now be going toe-to-toe with Amazon, which announced its entry into the pharmacy industry on Nov. 17. Amazon has deep pockets and isn't afraid to undercut its competition on price to gobble up market share, which clearly has Wall Street worried.
But overlooking Walgreens Boots Alliance would be a mistake, especially with the company's turnaround strategy already well under way. Walgreens is combatting competition by cutting its annual expenditures by at least $2 billion, while at the same reinvesting heavily in digitization. This means double-digit online sales growth, as well as a broader selection of items that can be purchased and picked up via mobile orders.
Maybe the most unique aspect of the Walgreens' operating model is its partnership with VillageMD to develop 700 full-service clinics within its stores. The idea here is to make Walgreens a one-stop shop for patients' medical needs. If this strategy bears fruit, Walgreens should see sales at its higher-margin pharmacy segment head higher. Offering a broader range of services should also help with foot traffic and repeat business.
Walgreens Boots Alliance may operate in a highly competitive space, but at less than 8 times Wall Street's forward-year profit forecast, it looks to be a no-brainer screaming buy.
Last, but certainly not least, enterprise cloud computing solutions provider Salesforce.com (CRM 2.06%), which is one of three new components to enter the Dow this year, has the look of a company investors are going to want to own.
Cloud solutions were growing like wildfire prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they've gained added importance in 2020. With the traditional work environment upended, there's been a growing need to rely on third-party cloud providers to keep the wheels turning, so to speak. Salesforce is playing its role as the leading customer relationship management (CRM) solutions provider, with 18.3% of worldwide CRM software spending in 2019, according to Gartner. That's more than double the share of its next-closest competitor.
What's great about Salesforce is that pretty much any company involved in sales is a potential client. While this logically includes retail, we find that companies involved in finance, manufacturing, and information technology are also utilizing CRM to a greater degree. Salesforce's ongoing innovation allows it to build on the solutions it's already providing its clients and further entrench its relationships. Or, in English, its clients are becoming ever-more reliant on CRM software and are less likely to jump ship to a competing CRM company.
Last week, Salesforce made waves when it was unveiled that the company was in late discussions to potentially buy Slack Technologies. If the deal comes to fruition, it'd give Salesforce a way to package or pitch its solutions to Slack's enterprise clients, much in the same way Microsoft cross-sells within the CRM and enterprise data-sharing space via Microsoft Teams.
The point is, Salesforce is a fast-growing beast that's shed more than 12% since hitting an all-time high in late August. That's an early holiday gift for opportunistic long-term investors.