Eleven reasons to AVOID investing in Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks

Of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 11 of them would actually be worth less or just about the same as they were 10 years ago (including dividends!).

When I first started writing this blog post, I was going to call it “How to Invest Safely in Stocks.” My second recommendation was that beginners should start with a handful of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Once I started digging through the numbers, though, I was a startled at what I found. Apparently, the blue-chip stocks aren’t the no-brainers most investors like to think they are.

Need proof? Check out this chart I put together of the 10-year returns for each of the 30 Dow Jones stocks:

Company 10-Year Stock Return 10-Year Dividend Return on $1,000 investment $1,000 is now worth
3M Company +46.6% $590.94 $3,458 (aided by a stock split)
Alcoa Inc. -68.1% $134.46 $449.82
American Express Company +41.47% $122.40 $1,514
AT&T Inc. -31.8% $357.12 $1,024
Bank of America Corp. -51.8% $718.58 $1,109
The Boeing Company +12.54% $218.16 $1,311
Caterpillar Inc. +208.7% $787.17 $7,093 (aided by a stock split)
Chevron Corporation +113.9% $794.85 $4,791
Cisco Systems, Inc. -7% $7.20 $933
The Coca-Cola Company +45.2% $284.76 $1,734
du Pont +11.1% $372.72 $1,462
Exxon Mobil Corporation +82% $319.44 $2,086
General Electric Company -61.9% $200.4 $572
Hewlett-Packard Company +2% $123 $1,129
The Home Depot, Inc. -32.7% $117.58 $780
Intel Corporation -29.7% $136.54 $825
International Business Machines Corp. +57.1% $127.26 $1,605
Johnson & Johnson +20.8% $257.22 $1,426
JPMorgan Chase & Co. -16.1% $273.12 $1,107
Kraft Foods Inc. +8.7% $283.34 $1,339
McDonald’s Corporation +198.4% $387.25 $3,351
Merck & Co., Inc. -51.2% $218.70 $698
Microsoft Corporation -20.1% $416.64 $1,998
Pfizer Inc. -56.3% $196.56 $634
The Procter & Gamble Company +68.6% $607.79 $3,884 (aided by a stock split)
The Travelers Companies, Inc. +11.8% $120.34 $1,206
United Technologies Corporation +94.9% $529.54 $4,305
Verizon Communications Inc. -31.5% $305.33 $988
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. +4.7% $130.29 $1,141
The Walt Disney Company +25.1% $110.20 $1,330

What’s startling is this: of the 30 stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, 11 of them would actually be worth less or just about the same as they were 10 years ago (including dividends!). That’s remarkable considering I didn’t factor in inflation, which have averaged 2.4 percent over the past decade (per FinTrend.com).

That means your odds of throwing a dart at a list of the Dow stocks and hitting a winner are only around 63 percent. That’s not much better than going to the casino and counting a few cards at the blackjack table.

Before you toss your hands up and cash in your IRA for guns and ammo, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the average return on $1,000 for the 30 Dow component stocks was $1,842 over the past 10 years. Indeed, a $1,000 investment in Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) would be worth $7,093 today. That’s not bad, but seeing the returns from a company like GE, which has crumpled more than 60 percent over the past 10 years is scary. And this year hasn’t been kind to the Dow, either. Take a peek at the YTD returns on each of the component stocks:

Company Ticker YTD Return Dividend Yield
3M Company NYSE:MMM -10.8% 2.86%
Alcoa Inc. NYSE:AA -27% 1.07%
American Express Company NYSE:AXP +3.9% 1.61%
AT&T Inc. NYSE:T -3.17% 6.05%
Bank of America Corp. NYSE:BAC -51.8% 0.62%
The Boeing Company NYSE:BA -10.5% 2.88%
Caterpillar Inc. NYSE:CAT -14.7% 2.3%
Chevron Corporation NYSE:CVX +2.25% 3.34%
Cisco Systems, Inc. NYSE:CSCO -25.8% 1.6%
The Coca-Cola Company NYSE:KO +2.28% 2.79%
du Pont NYSE:DD -12.1% 3.74%
Exxon Mobil Corporation NYSE:XOM -4.02% 2.68%
General Electric Company NYSE:GE -17.3% 3.97%
Hewlett-Packard Company NYSE:HPQ -41.9% 1.96%
The Home Depot, Inc. NYSE:HD -7.9% 3.1%
Intel Corporation NYSE:INTC -7.85% 4.33%
International Business Machines Corp. NYSE:IBM +8.33% 1.89%
Johnson & Johnson NYSE:JNJ -1.51% 3.6%
JPMorgan Chase & Co. NYSE:JPM -21.2% 2.99%
Kraft Foods Inc. NYSE:KFT +6.47% 3.46%
McDonald’s Corporation NYSE:MCD +14.3% 2.78%
Merck & Co., Inc. NYSE:MRK -13.1% 4.85%
Microsoft Corporation NYSE:MSFT -14% 2.67%
Pfizer Inc. NYSE:PFE +0.9% 4.52%
The Procter & Gamble Company NYSE:PG -4.07% 3.40%
The Travelers Companies, Inc. NYSE:TRV -11.8% 3.34%
United Technologies Corporation NYSE:UTX -14.02% 2.84%
Verizon Communications Inc. NYSE:VZ -2.6% 5.6%
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. NYSE:WMT -3.23% 2.80%
The Walt Disney Company NYSE:DIS -14.6% 1.25%

Just seven out of the 30 Dow component stocks have actually appreciated in value this year. That should give you pause before you invest in a high-profile company solely on the strength of its name and brand.

The Takeaway

Here are three key things I take away from the charts above:

1) Energy is the name of the game. One sector in the Dow has strongly out-performed others in recent years. Namely, oil (ala Chevron and Exxon). And I wouldn’t expect that to change – particularly as fears over inflation mount.

2) Banking stocks have a lot of ground to make up. The fact that JPMorgan Chase is down 16.1 percent over the past 10 years, and Bank of America’s down a whopping 51.8 percent could get you thinking banking stocks have to turn the corner soon. I’d argue there’s a lot of pain for them on the horizon, particularly with the imminent threat of inflation. Banks thrive and dive on interest rates, and all those fixed mortgages BAC’s underwriting at 3 percent could come back to bite them in a high-inflation environment. That’s a big part of why banking stocks have fallen in recent months, and it’s a trend I expect to continue.

3) Follow the macro-trends. If you would have invested $1,000 in gold at the start of 2001, you’d now be holding onto $6,797 in bullion. Energy and inflation are the stories du jour, and your portfolio should reflect that reality. No one can say the next 10 years will play out the same as the past 10, but we can say the demand for oil isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither is our government’s debt problem. You can’t afford to ignore the macro picture anymore, unless, of course, you’re happy rolling the dice in your IRA.

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Five stocks picks for 2011 from John Paulson

After returning as much 590 percent betting against mortgages in 2007, John Paulson’s looking toward precious metals, energy and housing in 2011.

Hedge fund manager John Paulson became an icon in the investing world when he made a huge wager against subprime mortgages in 2007. That year, his funds gained as much as 590 percent, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Paulson’s 2010 returns ranged between 11 percent and 45 percent compared with the 15 percent gain the S&P locked in. That was enough to net Paulson himself some $5 billion. Here’s a look at where he’s making his bets for 2011:

1) Precious metals. For several years now, Paulson’s been urging investors to buy gold. Just based on monetary expansion alone, he said last year, gold could hit $2,400 an ounce. Tack on significant inflation on top of that, and gold prices at $4,000 an ounce aren’t out of the question. Paulson’s gold positions in 2010 netted him a return of 45 percent, and he’s still optimistic that gold will outperform for the next 5 years calling it “the ideal vehicle to hedge against the risk of the U.S. dollar,” Forbes reports.

Among Paulson’s biggest gold positions last year were AngloGold Ashanti Limited (NYSE:AU), Osisko Mining Corp. (TSE:OSK) and the SPDR Gold Trust ETF (NYSE:GLD). Currently, his funds own securities that represent the rough equivalent of 96 metric tons of the metal, according to the New York Times. That’s more gold than the Australian government holds.

2) Internet security. Of the top positions initiated by Paulson as of Sept. 30, 2010, McAfee, Inc. (NYSE:MFE) made the list. McAfee, which makes antivirus software, firewalls and other software-based security for computers, made headlines after a buyout by Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) was announced in August. Paulson’s reputation as a macroeconomic investor makes it clear where he sees big opportunities for growth: protecting data from hackers.

3) Oil and natural gas. Paulson has jettisoned his position in banks in favor of energy stocks. Chief among his energy holdings going into 2011? Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC), the Texas-based oil and natural gas producer. It’s returned 20 percent over the past three months.

4) Biotechs. Genzyme Corporation (NASDAQ:GENZ) also made the list of top stocks that Paulson was acquiring late last year. Another buyout target, Sanofi-Aventis SA (NYSE:SNY) appears close locking in a deal to buy Genzyme. Trend anyone?

5) Housing. Paulson argued late last year that it was the best time to buy a house in 50 years. “If you don’t own a home, buy one,” he said at a lecture for New York’s University Club. “If you own one home, buy another one, and if you own two homes buy a third and lend your relatives the money to buy a home.” Can’t buy a home? Consider some beat-down real estate or construction stocks. A few good picks and you, too, might be on your way to earning $5 billion a year.

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Most popular financial news of the week on TradingStocks.me

Here’s a run-down of the most popular financial news on Tradingstocks.me based on traffic patterns for the week.

Here’s a run-down of the most popular financial news on Tradingstocks.me based on traffic patterns for the week:

1) We looked at the success behind the most successful mutual fund YTD Dynamic Gold & Precious Metals I (DWGOX) in Top five mutual funds returns in 2010.

2) The battle for banking supremacy is on in China, and we looked at Citigroup’s aggressive moves to bolster growth there in: Citigroup pulls shank on HSBC.

3) Turmoil in the financial sector over the past three years has named new leaders in the world of finance. We asked “Who are they?” in our article: Top five biggest bank stocks in the U.S. by market cap.

4) Did you realize ProShares offers 99 ETFs? From the Alpha ETF to the Xinhua China 25 ETF we’ve put together a great reference in Full list of ProShares ETFs.

5) What exactly was the point behind Intel’s acquisition of McAfee, Inc. (NYSE:MFE). We ask that question in our post: Is Intel (INTC) losing relevancy for investors?

Is Intel (INTC) losing relevancy for investors?

If Intel can’t make its partnership with McAfee sing, the company just seems to be opening the door and making lemonade for smaller companies like Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD).

It’s been a rough road for chipmakers over the past three months, and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) is taking it on the chin. Intel has lowered its guidance in an earnings warnings, they’re struggling to make headway in the mobile market, and the company’s share price is flirting with its 52-week low.

Investors (myself included) are flummoxed by Intel’s intent to acquire McAfee, Inc. (NYSE:MFE). Integrating security directly into chips reminds me of stories of IBM’s hardware/software agreement with a young Bill Gates (i.e. IBM just wanted hardware rights, and we know how great that worked out). The move just doesn’t make much sense, especially when Intel needs to concentrate on breaking into the mobile market.

Still, analysts don’t seem optimistic about Intel’s cell phone savvy. An analyst at Piper Jaffray contends that Intel’s Atom processor, Moorestown, and its companion I/O chip consume too much juice to be picked up by manufacturers in 2011.

If that analyst is right, that puts even more pressure on Intel to make its partnership with McAfee sing. If it doesn’t, Intel just seems to be opening the door and making lemonade for smaller companies like Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD).

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