For more than a year now, Boeing (BA) has been plagued by the 737 MAX crisis which has weighed on shares of the plane manufacturer with it now currently down nearly 20% from when the initial groundings took place on March 10th of last year. Despite this, while underperforming the broader market due to the 737 issues, the stock is actually still up just over 5% since the start of 2019.
Even though BA has lagged, it is still the highest-priced of the 30 stocks in the price-weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average. Currently trading around $338.50, the only stocks in the index holding a candle to BA are Apple (AAPL) and UnitedHealth (UNH), which also trade north of $300 per share. That means these stocks have the highest weighting in the index and therefore have a much larger impact than other stocks on the Dow’s performance.
With BA’s issues, a number of people have pondered the what-ifs for the Dow had the company not had the issues with the 737. Would we have already broken out the Dow 30K hats were it not for BA? In the chart below, we show the actual performance of the DJIA and have overlaid the performance of an ‘alternate Dow’ showing its performance if BA had not been in the index since the start of 2019. We used the start of 2019 instead of the actual date of the groundings as it is a little less arbitrary. By our calculations, while we would be a bit closer, even if BA wasn’t in the index since the start of 2019, we wouldn’t quite be at Dow 30K yet. As shown, our alternate Dow would be almost 1% or 266 points higher if Boeing was not included in the index since the start of 2019.
While BA has been a drag on the DJIA since last March, it also provided a big boost to the index in early 2018 before the 737 issues hit the stock. In fact, at the start of March 2017, BA was up over 36% YTD and the spread between the Dow’s performance with and without BA was around 700 points in the other direction as it is now!
Another example of this dynamic in which high priced stocks have a greater impact on the index was observed on Tuesday when Apple’s (AAPL) stock fell after the company warned that Q1 revenues would be shy of prior guidance due to the coronavirus. The warnings sent shares down over 3% at its intraday lows, but the stock only finished down 1.83%. While there were equivalent or larger declines like Dow (DOW) or Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) in Tuesday’s session, AAPL’s declines by far weighed on the index more than any other stock. Of the Dow’s 165.89 point decline, AAPL contributed 40.35 points. Fortunately, UNH helped to mitigate some of those losses as it had a positive impact on the index of +22.79 points. Start a two-week free trial to Bespoke Institutional to access our Closer, full list of interactive tools, and much more.