Finding the Cream of the Dow

The milestone of the Dow hitting 20,000 in late January should be taken with a grain of salt, writes Validea CEO John Reese in this week’s Nasdaq. He argues that, given the Dow’s history, the event isn’t really that significant.

Starting at its inception in 1896, it took the Dow over a decade to reach 100, then 66 years to reach 1,000, then another 41 years to make 15,000—so, rising by 5,000 in three-and-a-half years, writes Reese, “isn’t that big a deal.”

Reese cites comments by others including Motley Fool’s Daniel Kline and Bloomberg columnist Mohamed El-Erian, and drives home the point that, “eventually, the market will move on to more significant things like corporate earnings, valuations, industry developments, and related issues.”

Using his guru-based stock screening models, Reese identifies the following ‘gems’ from the Dow 30:

  • International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), the technology company, earns high marks for its cash flow-per-share and trailing 12-month sales, both of which are well above the market average.
  • UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH) is a diversified healthcare company that scores well in light of its price-earnings ratio, which compares favorably to the market average, and persistent growth in earnings-per-share.
  • Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), through its subsidiaries, provides communications, information and entertainment products and services to consumers, businesses and governmental agencies. The company is favored for its cash flow-per-share, which exceeds the market mean, and its dividend yield.
  • Apple Inc. (AAPL), the tech behemoth, gets a thumb’s up for earnings predictability and its ability to pay off debt within two years. Average return-on-equity and free cash flow-per-share are both very favorable, and management’s use of retained earnings reflects a solid return of 20.7%.