The two Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks least affected by Friday’s reaction to the Brexit vote were Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), down 0.44% and 0.19%, respectively. These two stocks are also the Dow’s best performers so far in 2016, with Verizon up 17.76% and Wal-Mart up 17.39% as of Friday’s closing bell.
Verizon is relatively impervious to a direct impact from the U.K’s decision to leave the European Union. The company does not offer consumer services directly, although it does offer a variety of communications and networking services for businesses through its Verizon Enterprise group.
Wal-Mart is something of a different story. The company owns the Asda supermarket chain in the United Kingdom and even though the company’s more than 500 stores in the country have been having a tough time showing growth, the chain remains the low-price leader. As we noted Friday, discretionary income is on the rise in Britain (or it had been) and now that growth appears to have been halted by the decision to leave the EU, saving money on food will help British families pay for what are soon to become more expensive imported goods from its former EU mates.
Verizon has two primary businesses that are healthy and one that is solid but shrinking slowly. The eroding one among the three is its landline business, which dates back decades. The foundation of Verizon’s success is its wireless business. Revenue there was $22 billion in the first quarter of 2016, down 1.5% compared with the same period last year. The strength of the business is an EBITDA margin of 46.2% in the first quarter, up from 44.8% in 2014. Verizon has 112.6 million wireless customers at the end of the first quarter of 2016. While pricing in this business segment can be cutthroat, Verizon leads it in market share.
Wal-Mart’s first quarter 2016 U.S. same-store sales rose 1%, and memberships in its Sam’s Club stores were rising. Wal-Mart is also spending heavily to grow its ecommerce revenues and improve the pay of its lowest paid workers. Both these are taking away from current profit numbers, but investors appear to be satisfied that the company is headed in the right direction and they keep bidding the stock higher.
Verizon closed Friday at $54.43 in a 52-week range of $38.06 to $55.22, and the high was posted Friday morning. The consensus price target on the stock is $52.33. Analysts seem to think the stock is fully, if not over-, valued.
Wal-Mart closed at $71.96 in a 52-week range of $56.30 to $74.14. The consensus price target on Wal-Mart shares is $69.11. Another case where analysts haven’t caught up with investors.
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