The 30 companies among the Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES:^DJI) represent a big cross-section of the American economy. As globalization has swept across the economic and business landscape, many of the leading companies in the U.S. have set their sights on opportunities abroad, seeking to take advantage of faster-growing markets rather than relying on their more mature U.S. counterparts to provide less exciting results.
But some of the Dow's top stocks have managed to maintain their focus on the domestic market and succeed. After having looked yesterday at some of the biggest international players within the Dow, let's turn our attention today to the five Dow companies that get almost none of their revenue from overseas. As crises in Europe and elsewhere have shown, sometimes it's advantageous not to be geographically diversified if it means sticking with the most prosperous opportunities available to you.
Big telecom, made in the USA
Both AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) don't report any international revenue in their annual reports, relying instead on the massive U.S. telecom market as their sole source of revenue. Given their respective origins as regulated Baby Bells -- what's now called AT&T was originally the Southwestern Bell spinoff from the original company, which bought the AT&T long-distance business and took its name -- it made sense for the two telecom giants to stay close to home.
Around the world, the industry has changed greatly, so that you now see several European telecoms with extensive holdings in Latin America and other high-growth areas. Britain's Vodafone, for instance, owns a substantial minority stake in the Verizon Wireless joint venture with Verizon. But given the massive capital requirements in building out the U.S. network, AT&T and Verizon have both found the U.S. market amply large to suit their profit and cash-flow needs.
Two other companies with little or no exposure to international markets are both insurance companies. UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) focuses exclusively on U.S. sources for revenue, while Travelers gets only a tiny amount of foreign exposure, with roughly 4% of its total sales coming from non-U.S. sources in its most recently reported year.
For UnitedHealth, though, that's about to change. With the company's investment in Brazil's Amil, UnitedHealth will become a major player in the Brazilian health-insurance market, and that could start a trend among insurance companies to try to diversify their political risk by entering multiple markets around the world.
Travelers, on the other hand, is more likely to stay close to home. Given recent natural disasters, Travelers has developed substantial pricing power, and unless adverse loss experience continues, higher premiums should allow the insurer to make plenty of money without broadening its geographical scope outside the country.
Finally, Home Depot (NYSE:HD) rounds our group of five stocks, having earned between 11% and 12% of its revenue from outside the U.S. in its most recently reported fiscal year. The home-improvement retailer has a significant presence in Canada, where it has become one of the top players in its space, standing up to competitors such as Canada's RONA as well as U.S. archrival Lowe's, which entered the Canadian market about five years ago.
Among these five companies, Home Depot arguably has the biggest prospects to go international. Plenty of big-box retailers in other segments have found success taking their U.S. business models and adapting them for international use, and given Home Depot's huge bull run in its stock over the past year, it clearly has capacity to expand. Although the retailer recently gave up on its efforts in China and despite some failures in Chile and Argentina, the Mexican market has a lot of potential for Home Depot, especially as Mexico's economic trends have improved in recent years.
Grow where you can
Global growth sounds great as a theory, but when you have a good business model that works at home, it often pays not to mess with success. These five companies have done a good job of keeping their U.S. customers satisfied, and if that proves to be the limit of their success, then it may nevertheless be good enough for investors to be happy as well.