The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -0.11%) is the mostwidely followed stock index, and there are no surprises why -- after all, the Dow Jones comprises of the 30 largest stocks in the U.S. Although the index considers the largest stocks based on price and not market capitalization, it still offers an excellent starting point for investors to pick top stocks for the long haul, simply because all of the Dow 30 stocks are huge, established players in their respective industries.
Right now, three Dow stocks in particular look really compelling based on recent developments and coming catalysts, and you might want to buy them right away. Read along.
The best Dow stock to play Biden's infrastructure plan
In an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC in April, Caterpillar's (CAT -1.86%) CEO Jim Umpleby emphasized how an infrastructure bill out of Washington would be "positive for us, no questions."
On Nov. 15, President Joe Biden silenced critics who'd long blamed the government for all talk, no action on infrastructure by signing a landmark $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law, less than ten month since starting his tenure as the 46th President of the U.S.
As America now gets down to rebuilding its roads, bridges, rails, airports, ports, upgrade water and internet infrastructure, and expand public infrastructure, heavy-equipment bellwether Caterpillar should stand to benefit. As Caterpillar mentions in its annual report, "the rates of infrastructure spending, commercial construction and housing starts also play a significant role in our results."
While Caterpillar's construction industries segment is fully focused on the infrastructure sector, its resource industries division also manufactures machinery for heavy construction, mining, quarry and aggregates, and waste handling. Construction industries was Caterpillar's largest segment in 2019, accounting for almost 40% of total sales. Last year, the segment contributed 37% to sales, one notch below the energy and transportation division given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caterpillar is already witnessing solid demand even before federal spending rolls out -- its revenue rose 25% year over year in the third quarter, with sales from construction industries and resource industries segments clocking double-digit growth.
Here's the most important number: Caterpillar ended Q3 with a backlog of $20.6 billion. If my memory serves right, this is the highest backlog I've seen since 2011 when Caterpillar ended the full year with a record backlog of around $30 billion.
With Caterpillar increasing dividends for 27 consecutive years and the stock now nearly 17% off 52-week highs with a 2.2% yield, this Dow Dividend Aristocrat stock is a great infrastructure play.
Expect big things coming this titan's way
The world might go back to offices soon, but the work-from-home trend isn't going anywhere. In an interview with CNBC dated Nov. 16, Salesforce's (CRM 1.64%) President and Chief Operating Officer Bret Taylor emphasized how flexible work is the future, making it even more imperative for organizations to have digital tools to connect with "employees, partners, and customers no matter where they are." Slack, a business messaging platform, is one such powerful tool at Salesforce's disposal, and Taylor is particularly excited about how Salesforce is integrating Slack with its core Customer 360 platform.
Salesforce is the world's largest customer relationship management (CRM) company with a market share of 19.5% in 2020, higher than the combined market shares of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Adobe, according to Statista. That's huge, and Salesforce has high expectations from Slack – which it recently acquired – to help it maintain the lead.
Salesforce is already growing at breakneck speed -- its revenue guidance for 2022 translates into CAGR of 26% in revenue between 2014 and 2022. Its margins and cash flows are rising as rapidly, and the company is even projecting revenue growth of around 21% for 2023. Salesforce estimates its total addressable market to grow at a compound annual rate of 13% between 2021 and 2025 to be worth a whopping $248 billion by 2025 as the bulk of the global technology spending is expected to be on digital transformation over the years.
Taylor is particularly excited about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, and with Salesforce also about to report its third-quarter numbers on Nov. 30, this Dow stock is a solid buy.
Time to buy the dip in this top Dow stock
Visa (V -0.58%) shares tumbled in recent days after Amazon (AMZN 7.38%) said it will stop accepting payments made with Visa cards in the U.K. starting next year because of high fees. As a payments processing company, Visa processes payments made using its cards anywhere in the world and earns a fee per transaction as well as a cut of the total transaction volumes in any given period. With Visa now at loggerheads with the e-commerce giant, many are worried about how this might hit Visa.
Here's why you might want to buy any dip in Visa shares.
To start, Visa said in a statement it was already "working toward a resolution" with Amazon, so it's likely this feud might end as Visa and Amazon have a long-standing partnership. Even otherwise, although Visa doesn't provide a break-up of revenues by geography, industry experts estimate Amazon U.K. to make up a tiny fraction -- less than 0.5% -- of Visa's transaction volumes. So there may not be much to worry about even if Visa loses Amazon U.K. permanently in the worst-case scenario, although that seems unlikely.
For its part, Visa's latest numbers reflect the company's growth trajectory. For the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2021, Visa's payments volumes rose 18.3% to $10.4 trillion as it processed 164.7 billion transactions in the year, up 17% from 2020. Overall, Visa's revenue grew 10% to $24.1 and it earned $5.63 in GAAP earnings per share in the year, up 15% over last year. Visa also increased its dividend by 17% while continuing to repurchase shares aggressively.
These are solid numbers, and although Visa is guiding for slower revenue growth of "high-end of mid-teens" for 2022, it could do better if cross-border travel opens up as COVID-19 restrictions ease. I'd bet on that possibility more than Amazon U.K. banning Visa permanently.