The 30 companies among the Dow Jones Industrials represent a big cross-section of the American economy. As globalization has swept across the economic and business landscape, many of the leading companies in the U.S. have set their sights on opportunities abroad, seeking to take advantage of faster-growing markets rather than relying on their more mature U.S. counterparts to provide less exciting results.
But some of the Dow’s top stocks have managed to maintain their focus on the domestic market and succeed. After having looked yesterday at some of the biggest international players within the Dow, let’s turn our attention today to the five Dow companies that get almost none of their revenue from overseas. As crises in Europe and elsewhere have shown, sometimes it’s advantageous not to be geographically diversified if it means sticking with the most prosperous opportunities available to you.
Big telecom, made in the USA
Both AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) don’t report any international revenue in their annual reports, relying instead on the massive U.S. telecom market as their sole source of revenue. Given their respective origins as regulated Baby Bells — what’s now called AT&T was originally the Southwestern Bell spinoff from the original company, which bought the AT&T long-distance business and took its name — it made sense for the two telecom giants to stay close to home.
Around the world, the industry has changed greatly, so that you now see several European telecoms with extensive holdings in Latin America and other high-growth areas. Britain’s Vodafone Group Plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:VOD), for instance, owns a substantial minority stake in the Verizon Wireless joint venture with Verizon. But given the massive capital requirements in building out the U.S. network, AT&T and Verizon have both found the U.S. market amply large to suit their profit and cash-flow needs.
Two other companies with little or no exposure to international markets are both insurance companies. UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH) focuses exclusively on U.S. sources for revenue, while The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TRV) gets only a tiny amount of foreign exposure, with roughly 4% of its total sales coming from non-U.S. sources in its most recently reported year.
For UnitedHealth, though, that’s about to change. With the company’s investment in Brazil’s Amil, UnitedHealth will become a major player in the Brazilian health-insurance market, and that could start a trend among insurance companies to try to diversify their political risk by entering multiple markets around the world.
Travelers, on the other hand, is more likely to stay close to home. Given recent natural disasters, Travelers has developed substantial pricing power, and unless adverse loss experience continues, higher premiums should allow the insurer to make plenty of money without broadening its geographical scope outside the country.