Apple is one of the largest companies in the world, and it has pioneered advancements in the technology sector throughout its history. The company innovated with its Macintosh computers in the 1980s, made media portable with its iPods in the early 2000s, and its iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches are ubiquitous today. In a world where consumers flock to the latest tech fads, Apple’s products engender notable loyalty from its customer base.
Apple also earns recurring revenue through its services, which include its iTunes, App Store, and streaming television businesses. Apple's market capitalization climbed above the $1 trillion mark in 2018 and then up to an unprecedented $2 trillion in 2020. On January 3, 2022, Apple once again made history by briefly climbing about the $3 trillion mark, though its market cap has declined along with many other NASDAQ companies in early 2022. Yet today, Apple remains the largest public company -- and the business is still growing.
Berkshire Hathaway is a major player in the insurance industry, offering various lines of commercial and personal insurance through subsidiaries GEICO and Gen Re. But Berkshire also owns a diverse set of businesses such as restaurant chain Dairy Queen, railroad giant BNSF, and its Berkshire Hathaway Energy utility company. With such a broad range of businesses, the company has a reputation for safety and security, as well as consistent performance.
Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) has been a leader in the beverage industry for more than a century as its namesake soft drink spawned a global empire. Yet Coca-Cola has also changed with the times and now provides a much broader array of products, including juices, sports drinks, and bottled water tailored for more health-conscious consumers.
Coca-Cola particularly stands out for increasing its dividend. Its streak of consecutive annual dividend payment increases dates back to the early 1960s, a track record placing it among the top 10 dividend stocks on the market.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is well-known for its popular consumer products, including baby shampoo, Band-Aids, and Tylenol pain reliever. But J&J is a true healthcare giant, making a wide array of medical devices to help doctors and other medical professionals perform life-saving procedures. Johnson & Johnson also has a vast pharmaceutical business and produces drugs such as the arthritis treatment Remicade, prostate cancer drug Zytiga, and psoriasis drug Stelara.
J&J is splitting into two companies by November 2023, and this is worth watching. One company will focus on consumer health products, considered the weaker segment of J&J’s business. The other will contain its highly regarded pharmaceuticals and medical devices segment.
Financial giant American Express (NYSE:AXP) is another blue chip stalwart to consider. It’s both a credit card company and a payments network. Its main revenue generators include credit card fees and transaction processing fees. The company is poised to increase both revenue streams with new users and higher transaction volume. It’s more than 170 years old, but it’s apparently staying relevant: More than half of new card accounts in 2021 were millennial and Gen Z consumers.
American Express’s management believes it can expand profits at a double-digit pace in years to come, and it also plans to pay out roughly a quarter of its profits as shareholder dividends. It’s already raised its dividend by 20% in 2022 (as of June 2022). Ongoing earnings growth should lead to additional increases in future years.