- Apple (AAPL) — One of the best businesses in the world and the strongest balance sheet; a safe-haven asset in the market
- Walmart (WMT) — One of several retailers trading well amid inflationary spike. Has great technicals
- UnitedHealth Group (UNH) — Double-digit earnings forecasts for 2022 and 2023 and a share price hitting new highs.
With the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) down about 6% this year, you might think Dow stocks aren’t doing well right now, but there are opportunities if you look.
The Dow still is the best-performing U.S. index so far this year. The next-best performer is the S&P 500 (.SPX), which is down 8.42%, while the Nasdaq (.IXIC) and Russell 2000 (.RUT) are each down more than 10%. Naturally, that has us looking at Dow stocks to buy.
It’s not that all Dow stocks are guaranteed to be winners, but because the companies included in this group have been around for so long, they all have proven business models.
Sometimes those businesses falter over time. Other times, they thrive. Looking at our list above, it’s pretty hard to argue about the size Walmart has grown to or the dominance that Apple has enjoyed. It’s likely that those companies will continue to dominate, but it’s not a certainty.
While we don’t know what the future holds, investors can be quite certain that these companies will be around beyond the second quarter of 2022. I went through each of the 30 Dow stocks in the index, looking through the fundamentals and the charts. Narrowing down three was difficult, but these were the ones that were left.
Apple has perhaps the best business model in the world.
While many scoffed at Services because it would “not really move the needle” at a company of this size, this unit has indeed proven that it can be significant now several years later.
Not only is Apple’s Services business more than twice as profitable as its Products business, but it’s growing revenue at a double-digit clip.
Last quarter, Apple’s Services unit grew 24% year over year to a record $19.5 billion. That comes with gross margins that are more than double its Products business, paving the way to notable gains in earnings.
It helps that the company boasts a fortress balance sheet and robust share repurchase program too.
Apple typically focuses on its dividend and buyback program in April, so investors will have that to look forward to when it reports earnings later this month.
In retail, there have always been the haves and the have-nots.
We’re certainly seeing that now, with a handful of retail stocks boasting solid outperformance. Not just a participant but a leader in that group is Walmart.
Walmart stock continues to push higher with investors focusing on the country’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer. It’s not even that Walmart is the most attractive business in the world, either. The stock yields 1.5% and trades at 22 times this year’s earnings.
That’s not bad necessarily, but it’s hard to get too excited over low- to mid-single digit revenue and earnings growth this year and next year.
Instead, Walmart stands out amid the Dow stocks because it continues to do well during an inflationary period. Plus, it’s a reasonable flight-to-safety trade.
As it pertains to the charts, bulls may consider buying the dip down to the 10-day moving average and the prior breakout area near $152.50.
UnitedHealth Group has been one of the better-performing Dow stocks this year, as it has pushed to all-time highs.
So far, UnitedHealth Group is up 6.5% on the year, putting it in the top quarter of the index when it comes to year-to-date performance. Even better, shares are up 20% from this year’s low.
Given its growth and secular business nature, it’s hard to dislike UNH stock at this point.
Clearly, the technicals are working in its favor, as the stock continues to grind higher. Beyond that though, analysts expect 11% revenue growth this year and 8.5% growth in 2025.
For earnings, estimates call for 13% growth this year and an acceleration up to 14% growth in 2023.
In short, we have a company with double-digit revenue and earnings growth and a stock riding a strong uptrend. Even better, its business is somewhat insulated in that, recession or expansion, healthcare can’t wait.
Keep UnitedHealth on your radar of Dow stocks to buy this quarter.
On the date of publication, Bret Kenwell is long WMT stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
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