The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) of 30 large stocks has long been arguably the most watched index for those following the stock market. As I write this IBM a long-time index component reported a major miss in its quarterly earnings.
The stock was down some 7% for the day and due to this decline the DJIA was been down most of the day. The index finished up some 19 points but without the drag of IBM the index would have been up around 100 points according to a commentator on CNBC. This begs the question is the Dow Jones Industrial Average still a relevant stock market index?
It’s just 30 stocks
The DJIA is a weighted average (the actual weighting formula is very complex) of the price of the 30 stocks that comprise the index. Originally the index was supposed to represent the stocks of large industrial companies. Over the years the composition of the index has changed to reflect the changing nature of American business.
Here are the 30 companies that comprise the index:
|American Express Co|
|Cisco Systems Inc|
|E I du Pont de Nemours and Co|
|Exxon Mobil Corp|
|General Electric Co|
|Goldman Sachs Group Inc|
|Home Depot Inc|
|International Business Machines|
|Johnson & Johnson|
|JPMorgan Chase and Co|
|Merck & Co Inc|
|Procter & Gamble Co|
|The Coca-Cola Co|
|Travelers Companies Inc|
|United Technologies Corp|
|UnitedHealth Group Inc|
|Verizon Communications Inc|
|Wal-Mart Stores Inc|
|Walt Disney Co|
Certainly a nice mix of manufacturers, retail, financial services, and technology related companies. Three major names absent from the index include Google, Facebook, and Apple. While these are large and influential companies they do not represent the total focus of the investment universe.
Chuck Jaffe wrote this excellent piece on the topic of the Dow It’s time to ditch the Dow Jones Industrial Average over at the Market Watch site.
Investing options are varied and global
Of the major market benchmarks the broader S&P 500 seems to hold a lot more sway with many money managers and others in the finance and investing world. I know that personally I am a lot more concerned with this index as a benchmark for large cap mutual funds and ETFs than the Dow.
The NASDAQ is also widely watched due to its heavy tech influence. I think the bursting of the Dot Com bubble put this index on the radar to stay back in early 2000.
Other key benchmarks include the Russell 2000 for small cap stocks, the Russell Mid Cap, the EAFE for large cap foreign stocks and many others for various market niches. Additionally there are any number of index mutual funds and ETFs that follow these and other key benchmarks for those who want to invest in these segments of the stock market.
While I’m guessing the Dow will remain a widely watched and quoted stock market indicator I and many others find it increasingly irrelevant. It is always a good idea to benchmark your investments against the appropriate index for a single holding or a blended, weighted benchmark to gauge your overall portfolio’s performance.