Of the 3 major indexes, the Dow Jones has suffered the least in 2022's bear, showing year-to-date losses of 7% against the S&P 500's 17% drop and the NASDAQ's far more extreme 29% decline.
Jim Cramer, the well-known host of CNBC's 'Mad Money' program, believes that a big part of the blue-chip index's better display is down to it being crammed with more established old school names, and ones that are profitable, compared to the S&P's more mixed affair and the tech-heavy NASDAQ, which is home to more growth-oriented, unprofitable companies.
But if you think 2023 will usher in a changing of the guard, Cramer believes otherwise. "As we head into the end of the year, Wall Street tends to crowd into the biggest winners, which is why I expect the Dow to keep outperforming the Nasdaq and the S&P, at least until January, possibly even a lot longer," Cramer said.
With this in mind, we used TipRanks database to find three Dow stocks that could well-benefit from ongoing DOW dominance. More importantly, all three have garnered substantial support from Wall Street with a "Strong Buy" analyst consensus. Let's see what the analysts like about them.
Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)
Hardly any companies come bigger than Microsoft, the first Dow stock we'll look at. It is the second biggest company in the world by market cap, the tech giant being a home and office computing pioneer, having built its empire on the ubiquitous MS Windows operating system and its business apps suite for PCs, MS Office.
But the company has branched out from there and now encompasses everything from cloud computing (Azure) to gaming (Xbox) and along the way there have been some huge acquisitions that have widened its remit, the biggest of which have been gaming giant Activision Blizzard ($69 billion - expected to close next year), networking site Linkedin ($26 billion), and cloud and AI software company Nuance ($19.7 billion), with plenty of others trailing behind.
The tough economic backdrop has weighed on all and sundry this year, but despite the ongoing headwinds, Microsoft still managed to deliver a positive set of financial metrics in its latest quarterly report - for the first quarter of fiscal 2023 (September quarter). Revenue climbed by 10.6% year-over-year to $50.1 billion while the company delivered EPS of $2.35, marking a modest y/y increase of 3.5%. Both results bettered Street expectations.
However, the company warned of trouble ahead due to the precarious state of the global economy. For the December quarter, Microsoft guided for revenue between $52.4 billion and $53.4 billion, some distance below the Street's expectation of $56.1 billion.
Investors might have shown their disappointment and the shares might be down by 27% year-to-date, but Argus analyst Joseph Bonner sees plenty of reasons to keep on backing a company he believes "may just hold the premiere position in business technology."
"Although obviously not immune from macroeconomic factors, Microsoft has about as diversified and strong a set of assets as any company in the Technology industry -- and may even be looked at as a haven by investors looking for a flight to quality in uncertain times and market conditions," Bonner explained. "The company is one of a few with a complete and integrated product set aimed at enterprise efficiency, cloud transformation, collaboration, and business intelligence. It also has a large and loyal customer base, a large cash cushion, and a rock-solid balance sheet."
Accordingly, Bonner rates MSFT shares a Buy, while his $371 price target implies ~53% upside potential from current levels. (To watch Bonner's track record, click here)
Overall, there's no doubts on Wall Street that the bulls are running with MSFT; the stock's 29 recent analyst reviews break down 26 to 3 in favor of Buys over Holds for a Strong Buy consensus rating. The shares are priced at $242.02 and have an average target of $295.38, which indicates room for ~22% growth in the year ahead. (See MSFT stock forecast on TipRanks)
The Walt Disney Company (DIS)
Does Walt Disney really need an introduction? The entertainment behemoth's reputation precedes it, and the company is not known as the Content King for nothing. Disney's offerings span everything from its world-famous theme parks to its film studio division Walt Disney Studios (which counts amongst its roster the Walt Disney Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Searchlight Pictures), cable television networks including the Disney Channel, ESPN, and National Geographic, and the Disney+ streaming service.
Despite all the above, Disney has been going through some tough times. The company took a big hit during the pandemic, what with shuttered theme parks, closed movie theaters, and halts to live action productions. And recently, the global economic woes have made their presence felt. In fact, the troubles have been so acute, they have ushered in the recent and unexpected return of former CEO Bob Iger, called upon to turn Disney's fortunes around.
Iger took hold of the reins following a woeful fiscal fourth quarter report (October quarter). While revenue increased by 8.7% year-over-year to $20.15 billion, that figure fell short of Street expectations by $1.29 billion. Likewise on the bottom-line, the company delivered adj. EPS of $0.30, some distance below the $0.56 anticipated by the analysts.
On a bright note, the company did add 12.1 million Disney+ subscribers, way above the 9.3 million additions anticipated on Wall Street. Disney+ is part of the company's DTC (direct to consumer) business, a segment which Tigress Financial analyst Ivan Feinseth believes can propel the company forward.
"DTC remains a key growth opportunity, with DIS's DTC services adding nearly 57 million subscriptions this year for a total of over 235 million," the 5-star analyst said. "Content is King, and DIS is the King of Content, which continues to drive its flywheel of growth. DIS's strong brand equity, innovative entertainment development capabilities, and ongoing investments in new digital media development initiatives will drive greater Return on Capital, increasing Economic Profit, and long-term gains in shareholder value creation."
To this end, Feinseth rates DIS a Buy while his Street-high $177 price target suggests the shares will climb 85% higher over the one-year timeframe. (To watch Feinseth's track record, click here)
Most analysts agree with Feinseth's thesis; the stock claims a Strong Buy consensus rating, based on 17 Buys vs. 3 Holds. The average target stands at $122.25, making room for 12-month growth of ~28%. (See Disney stock forecast on TipRanks)
Visa Inc. (V)
The last Dow stock we'll look at is a giant of a different kind. Visa is a global payments leader and amongst the world's most valuable companies. Instead of issuing cards, extending credit, or establishing rates and fees for consumers, what Visa actually does is give financial institutions access to payment products bearing the Visa brand, which they can use to offer credit, debit, prepaid, and cash access services to their clients. Its network enables digital payments in more than 200 countries and territories and has facilitated 255.4 billion transactions with a total volume of $14 trillion in the 12 months leading up to June 2022.
While Visa volumes and revenues went through a lull during the pandemic, they have been rising steadily since, as was the case again in the recently reported fiscal fourth quarter statement (September quarter). Revenue came in at $7.8 billion, amounting to a 19% increase on the same period last year, while beating the Street's forecast by $250 million. Likewise, adj. EPS of $1.93 trumped the $1.86 anticipated by the analysts. At the same time, the board raised Visa's quarterly cash dividend by 20% to $0.45 a share and gave the go ahead for a new $12.0 billion share repurchase program.
That is the sort of performance and activities which have shielded the stock from much of 2022's carnage (the shares are down by only 2.5% in 2022).
Assessing Visa's prospects, Morgan Stanley's James Faucette believes that even in the event of a recession, the company should be "well protected."
Explaining his bullish stance, Faucette writes: "V is one of our preferred stocks, as it is a key beneficiary of resilient global consumer spend growth, the ongoing shift from cash to electronic payments, and broadening merchant acceptance… We see upside opportunity from faster-than expected recovery of travel and the sustained strength of cross-border ecommerce. Continued investment in longer term initiatives (faster payments, P2P, B2B) and partnerships continue to increase its TAM and offer an opportunity for compounding double digit earnings growth for the foreseeable future."
It's no wonder, then, that the 5-star analyst rates V shares an Overweight (i.e., Buy) while his $284 price target could deliver returns of 34% over the course of the next year. (To watch Faucette's track record, click here)
That bullish sentiment is mirrored by the rest of the Street's take; while one analyst remains on the sidelines, all 17 other recent analyst reviews are positive, providing the stock with a Strong Buy consensus rating. The forecast calls for 12-month gains of ~17%, considering the average target stands at $246.33. (See Visa stock forecast on TipRanks)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.