Blue-chip stocks are the biggest and most stable investments on the market. Named for the highest-value poker chip, they can be defined in many different ways, drawing on qualities such as size, decades of operation, household-grade brand names, and solid dividend histories. But you can always boil the true blue chips down to great quality and massive size.
It's no secret that New York City is a hotbed of business activity. A quick search among the 500 components of the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) index finds 66 of these business titans headquartered no more than 25 miles from Times Square. Go upstate, and you'll find a smattering of public giants in places like Buffalo and Rochester, too.
Here are a few of the biggest, best, and most familiar blue chips in the Empire State today -- and why they qualify for that lofty title.
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) is one of the world's largest banks, no matter how you slice it. This longtime Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) member comes with a $233 billion market cap, collected $92 billion in revenue over the last year on a staggering $1.2 trillion of assets under management, and could probably beat your bank with two hands tied behind its back.
JPMorgan is headquartered in the JP Morgan building in midtown Manhattan, within comfortable walking distance of Broadway, Times Square, Grand Central, and the Rockefeller Center. Where else, right?
Fellow megabank Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) has its corporate headquarters clear across the country in San Francisco, but its New York "hubquarters" stand literally five minutes down the street from JPMorgan's tower. This isn't technically the "financial district" of New York, but Park Avenue is so packed with banking firepower that it would deserve the name just as richly as Wall Street does.
On the list of the Big Apple's biggest stocks, you'll find Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) next. The pharma giant sits a bit to the east of JPMorgan, closer to the United Nations headquarters on Manhattan's east bank.
Pfizer stands among the three largest drug developers in the world. The company can look back at annual sales of $50 billion, led by blockbuster names such as arthritis treatment Enbrel, infection fighter Prevnar, and neurologic disease modifier Lyrica. A number of big sellers in the Pfizer portfolio are running out of patent protection, and the company hopes to make up for these headwinds with promising new products including breast cancer drug Ibrance.
No matter what happens to Pfizer's drug pipeline in the near future, the company remains one of the biggest and best-run pharma specialists anywhere.
Next up is massive telecom Verizon (NYSE:VZ). The company was assembled from two East Coast Baby Bells plus a dash of indie networking via the GTE merger. Verizon's headquarters have always been found on Manhattan, albeit moving back and forth between two pieces of prime real estate. Currently, its digs overlook Bryant Park and the New York Public Library, just a stone's throw away from Pfizer and JPMorgan.
Verizon is the largest communications network in the United States, with 109 million wireless subscribers helping the company collect $127 billion in revenue last year. Like all the big names in telecommunications, Verizon also injects significant value into the domestic economy. The payroll includes more than 176,000 employees, and Verizon funneled $17 billion into capital investments in 2014.
Any way you slice it, these New York-based businesses ooze blue-chip qualities. They are huge, they're stable, and none of them are going away anytime soon.
Some of New York's blue chips can't match Verizon or JPMorgan in terms of sheer size, but they deliver on quality in spades.
For instance, Corning (NYSE:GLW) dominates the global glassware trade, including newfangled markets such as smartphone screen panels and high-performance fiber-optic cables.
Corning is a relative minnow among blue chips, sporting a $29 billion market cap and $10 billion in annual sales. But it's also a top-notch innovator that stays on the bleeding edge after 160 years of operating history. The management team is world-class, the business converts 37% of its incoming revenue into free cash flow, and Corning is a longtime Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation for all the right reasons.
You won't find Corning on Manhattan, though. Instead, the company remains headquartered and heavily invested in its namesake city of Corning, N.Y. The four-hour drive to New York City has not stopped Corning from doing great business over a very long time.
But wait -- there's more!
These are just a handful of examples of blue-chip businesses in New York. I could have highlighted a plethora of big winners in many different fields, from technology powerhouses to consumer goods titans and everything in between. There just isn't room for a full exploration in a single write-up.
New York attracts this high-quality business stream in many ways. The thriving local economy certainly helps, as does the high density of nearby experts and suppliers for any service an enterprise might need. The city and state are also home to some of the finest universities in the world, supplying companies with a rich talent pool of fresh recruits.
To find out more about New York as a breeding ground for great investments, you can start with a list of tickers found in the state, sorted by market cap. Anything on the first few pages of that list probably qualifies as a size-based blue chip. There's still much homework to be done before you can sort the truly greats out from the merely goods, but you gotta start somewhere.
Anders Bylund owns shares of Google (A shares). The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Corning, Google (A and C shares), Verizon Communications, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Corning, Google (A and C shares), JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.