Wednesday, November 05, 2014

DJIA: surprisingly, it’s (still) pretty darned industrial

I recently read about a study of the companies that make up the Dow Jones Industrials.

Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of volatility in that group, and there are very few companies that have remained on it forever.

Of the original 12 companies comprising the industrials, General Electric is the last man standing.

The other originals - some of which still exist in some way, shape, or form as part of something else -  for the most part, seem pretty quaint.

The American Cotton Oil Company. The Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company. Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad. (Which sure sounds pretty vertically integrated, doesn’t it? Fully integrated would be Tennessee Coal, Iron, Railroad & Passenger.)

Today’s list, at least to me, seems to have remained surprisingly industrial.

I don’t know whether I was expecting all GOOG and FB sorts of companies, but there were actually a lot of outfits that actually make something tangible, and in many cases at least vaguely industrial, on it: 3M, Boeing, Caterpillar, Chevron, Cisco, DuPont, Exxon Mobil, GE, Intel, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Nike, Pfizer, P&G, United Technologies.

Then there are the behemoths that sell stuff: Home Depot, Wal-Mart. And the companies that we snack on after an exhausting trip to Home Depot or Wal-Mart: McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.

There are entities that help us pay for our wares – American Express, Goldman, JP Morgan Chase, Visa. There’s one that insures us, in case we’re in a car accident on the way to or fro. (Travelers.) And one to take care of our health, once we’re in that accident. (United Health Care.)

There are companies that help us order online if we don’t feel like risking an accident: AT&T and Verizon. But no automotive giant to get us there if we want to drive. No Ford, no Chrysler, no GM. (We could, however, have flown on our shopping trip with Boeing, or bulldozered our way into the parking lot with Caterpillar.)

And then there’s Walt Disney to round out the list.

Although they are responsible for the manufacture of an inordinate amount of tangible crap, they are not exactly industrial. Industrious, surely – heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s off to work we go – but industrial, hardly.

It was kind of fun glancing through the companies that’ve been dropped out over time. Talk about a snapshot off what made the American economy go: American Beet Sugar, Baldwin Locomotive, Hudson Motors, International Shoe, Remington Typewriters, Wright Aeronautical, Studebaker, Texas Gulf Sulphur, Victor Talking Machines.

(Texas Gulf Sulphur and Victor Talking Machines: they sure don’t name companies like they used to.)

Don’t know what prompted me to look to the DJIA as a possible blog topic.

Could’ve been something I heard from the Radio Corporation of America…



Source of DJIA info: Wikipedia (original and current list), Quasimodo (complete list of members over time).

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