Over the past month, we've witnessed an extremely rare divergence between the technology-dependent Nasdaq Composite and the iconic Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 1.76%). Whereas the Nasdaq Composite has dipped into official correction territory (down 10.5%, as of March 8), the Dow Jones pressed to a new intraday all-time high on Tuesday, March 9. It's the widest divergence we've seen between these two indexes in 28 years.
What might come as even more of a surprise to investors is that, despite hitting an all-time high earlier this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is still home to a number of perceived bargains. Based on Wall Street's 12-month consensus price targets, there are currently four Dow stocks that offer upside ranging between 24% and 31%. That's huge when we're talking about predominantly large or megacap multinational companies.
Apple: Implied upside of 25%
Surprise! The largest publicly traded company in the U.S, Apple (AAPL 4.08%), has implied upside of 25% over the next year, according to Wall Street's consensus price target. If this price target proves accurate, it will add about $500 billion in market cap onto Apple's $2.03 trillion valuation.
There's little question that Apple has a number of catalysts working in its favor. In particular, it introduced its first 5G-capable iPhone last year. It's been a full decade since wireless carriers improved download speeds, so you can rest assured that businesses and consumers will be champing at the bit to upgrade their devices in the years to come. During the first quarter of the iPhone 12 being on the market, Apple set a record for iPhone sales.
Apple is also raising eyebrows with its ongoing shift into services and wearables. CEO Tim Cook is undertaking this shift to shore up Apple's operating margins, improve longer-term organic growth prospects, and give enthusiasts extra incentive to stay within the Apple ecosystem of products and services.
Apple aggressively repurchased its own stock and generated almost $89 billion in operating cash flow over the trailing 12-month period, so it's a good bet it will head higher over the long run. A 25% gain in a year may not be in the cards, but "up" looks to be the correct direction in which it's headed.
Merck: Implied upside of 30%
Investors could find even more upside in Dow component Merck (MRK 0.83%). Pharmaceutical stock Merck ended March 9 at $74 a share but has a consensus price target from Wall Street of $96. That's an implied upside of as much as 30% and would carry Merck back to all-time highs set over two decades ago.
It's no secret that Merck's biggest growth driver is cancer immunotherapy Keytruda. Last year, sales of Merck's blockbuster surged 30% to $14.4 billion. Keytruda is already approved for advanced small cell lung cancer, various stages of non-small cell lung cancer, and advanced stomach cancer, to name a few core indications. It's being studied in dozens of additional clinical trials as a monotherapy or combination therapy, which offers plenty of hope for further label expansion opportunities. It's quite possible Merck's oncology workhorse could eventually become the world's best-selling drug.
Beyond Keytruda, Merck's animal health segment is another source of excitement. During the worst recession in decades, Merck still managed to grow animal health revenue by 10% on a constant-currency basis to $4.7 billion (about 10% of total company sales). Although livestock represents the lion's share of animal health revenue, it was the 11% growth in companion animal sales that provided the bulk of the gains. Never underestimate the willingness of pet owners or farmers to open their wallets to improve the well-being of their animals.
Walmart: Implied upside of 24%
Retail behemoth Walmart (WMT 1.97%) is another Dow stock with some incredible upside potential. Wall Street professionals are counting on the company to hit nearly $160 a share over the next 12 months. Following the company's mid-February tumble, this works out to upside of up to 24%.
The buy thesis on Walmart is similar to what it's always been: This is a company with deep pockets that can throw its weight around to get what it wants. It often uses its size to purchase in bulk and can almost always undercut smaller retailers on price. Plus, the company's Superstore concept mirrors the selection found in warehouse clubs and the largest supermarket chains. Essentially, Walmart has created a one-stop shopping model that's very difficult to top.
What's made the company even more intriguing is its investments in technology. Although it was aided by the pandemic, Walmart's U.S. e-commerce sales catapulted higher by 69% during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021. The company also plans to invest $14 billion in fiscal 2022 to expand its supply-chain capacity and improve automation.
With an estimated 7.4 million to 8.2 million people signing up for a Walmart+ membership since the company's delivery/loyalty program launched in mid-September, Walmart looks to give chief rival Amazon a run for its money.
Salesforce: Implied upside of 31%
However, the greatest upside among Dow stocks belongs to cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software company salesforce.com (CRM 1.62%). Following the recent tech wreck, Wall Street now opines that Salesforce offers as much as 31% upside over the next year.
To understand why this is such a coveted investment, simply take a closer look at the product. CRM solutions can help make any consumer-facing business more efficient. It's a logical addition for retail and service-industry businesses, but is more frequently being used in the finance, manufacturing, and healthcare space. The ability to access real-time customer information, resolve service/product issues, manage marketing campaigns, and suggest upsells to existing clients makes CRM a no-brainer double-digit growth trend.
As for Salesforce, it's only the undisputed leader of cloud-based CRM. According to IDC, it controlled just shy of 20% of global CRM revenue during the first half of 2020. That's more than the No.'s 2 through 5 in market share combined.
With salesforce set to acquire Slack Technologies in a cash-and-stock deal worth $27.7 billion, it'll also soon have the ability to cross-sell to small and medium-sized businesses using Slack's communications platform. The sky seems to be the limit for one of the fastest-growing Dow stocks.