The Great Recession provided one of the greatest buying opportunities in the history of the stock market. When the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) traded at multi-year lows during 2008 and 2009, investors could have randomly selected a portfolio of blue chip stocks and would likely have extraordinary percentage gains at this point in time.
A handful of Dow stocks, however, have performed especially well and have helped drive the index all the way to 15,000. Here are the top five performers since the March 6, 2009 close, when many Dow stocks hit bottom.
1. American Express (AXP)
Price Return: 627 percent
Additional Dividend Cash Return: 33 percent
American Express, one of the world’s largest credit card providers, is the Dow’s best performer since the recession bottom. With consumer spending up and rising demand for credit cards instead of cash, the entire credit card service industry has been one of the fastest growing industries over the last several years. Additionally, the card companies were never hit with severe regulations like the banking industry was, which helped facilitate organic growth over the last several years.
2. Home Depot (HD)
Price Return: 349 percent
Additional Dividend Cash Return: 28 percent
The Home Depot is a home improvement retailer that operates over 2,200 full-service, warehouse style stores primarily in the United States. The company has reaped the benefits of the housing recovery, which has driven demand for its building materials, garden products, and other goods. Consequently, Home Depot has performed especially well over the last twelve months, with the stock hitting an all-time high in May 2013.
3. Bank of America (BAC)
Price Return: 315 percent
Additional Cash Dividend Return: 5.5 percent
Bank of America, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, was hit especially hard during the mortgage crisis. Shares plunged to below $3 in early 2009, as investors feared the company would go bankrupt or become nationalized. However, the government’s $20 billion bailout of Bank of America, part of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), saved the day for Bank of America shareholders. The company has since returned to full profitability.
4. Disney (DIS)
Price Return: 302 percent
Additional Cash Dividend Return: 13.3 percent
Disney is a diversified worldwide entertainment company that operates in media, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, and consumer products. A perfect combination of a stronger economy, managerial execution, and valuable content creation, particularly in movies and ESPN, have driven the stock much higher in recent years.
5. UnitedHealth Group (UNH)
Price Return: 266 percent
Additional Cash Dividend Return: 13.1 percent
UnitedHealth is a diversified healthcare company that provides care delivery, health financial services, care management, and other services. In addition to a stronger economy, the company has reacted positively to “Obamacare,” which will require every American to have health insurance.
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