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30 Bizarre Facts About the Dow 30 Companies

- Jared Cummans

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is comprised of 30 of the biggest companies in the world, and is often referred to as the Dow 30. These blue chip stocks are well-known in the investment world as well as the consumer space, and there are some fun and interesting facts behind these juggernauts that you may not have known. Below, we present 30 bizarre or interesting facts for each of the Dow 30 components.

3M (MMM)

  • Founded: 1902
  • Headquarters: Maplewood, Minnesota
  • Market Cap: $93 billion

The company’s founders originally sold what they thought was corundum to manufacturers, but they soon learned that they were selling a worthless mineral called anorthosite

American Express (AXP)

  • Founded: 1850
  • Headquarters: New York City, New York
  • Market Cap: $95 billion

The company was originally founded as an express mail service operating out of Buffalo, NY.

AT&T (T)

  • Founded: 1983
  • Headquarters: Dallas, Texas
  • Market Cap: $189 billion

When its government-backed monopoly was dissolved in 1984, the company split into 24 different firms known as “Baby Bells.”

Boeing (BA)

  • Founded: 1916
  • Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
  • Market Cap: $97 billion

After WW1, used military planes flooded the market and put many airplane manufacturers out of business. To stay alive, Boeing built dressers, counters, furniture, and boats, among other things.

Caterpillar (CAT)

  • Founded: 1925
  • Headquarters: Peoria, Illinois
  • Market Cap: $66 billion

Caterpillar’s early tractors became instrumental in WW1 for pulling and transporting heavy artillery and supplies.

Chevron (CVX)

  • Founded: 1984
  • Headquarters: San Ramon, California
  • Market Cap: $238 billion

In 1948, Standard Oil of California (later to become Chevron) found the Ghawar oil field in Saudi Arabia, the largest in the world. The Saudi government has kept most of the information concerning the field under wraps in recent years, but it is estimated to contain 71 billion barrels of oil.

Cisco Systems (CSCO)

  • Founded: 1984
  • Headquarters: San Francisco: California
  • Market Cap: $119 billion

Founders Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner were forced to resign from Stanford when it was discovered that they had stolen one of the University’s routers for Cisco’s first products.

E I du Pont de Nemours and Co (DD)

  • Founded: 1802
  • Headquarters: Wilmington, Delaware
  • Market Cap: $63 billion

DuPont was founded as a Gunpowder Mill in 1802 after its founder, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, fled France to escape the French Revolution.

Exxon Mobil (XOM)

  • Founded: 1999
  • Headquarters: Irving, Texas
  • Market Cap: $439 billion

The company is the result of a merger between Exxon and Mobil, both of which were originally part of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company that was broken up by the government in 1911.

General Electric (GE)

  • Founded: 1892
  • Headquarters: Fairfield, Connecticut
  • Market Cap: $269 billion

GE is responsible for the largest tax return in U.S. history, as the report clocked in at approximately 24,000 pages. That would take up about 237 MBs if submitted electronically.

Goldman Sachs Group (GS)

  • Founded: 1869
  • Headquarters: New York City
  • Market Cap: $74 billion

Henry Goldman resigned in 1917 (during WWI) under pressure from partners due do his pro-German stance. This left the company in the hands of the Sachs family.

Home Depot (HD)

  • Founded: 1978
  • Headquarters: Marietta, Georgia
  • Market Cap: $108 billion

Home Depot built its first two stores in spaces that it leased from JC Penney (JCP).

Intel Corp (INTC)

  • Founded: 1968
  • Headquarters: Santa Clara, California
  • Market Cap: $132 billion

Intel was founded by the potent combination of a chemist, a physicist, and a venture capitalist.

IBM (IBM)

  • Founded: 1916
  • Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
  • Market Cap: $97 billion

The famous Styx song Mr. Roboto would have featured a protagonist with a completely different brain, had it not been for IBM.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

  • Founded: 1886
  • Headquarters: New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • Market Cap: $285 billion

The company was founded by three brothers who were inspired by a speech given by Joseph Lister, a pioneer of sterile surgery.

JPMorgan Chase and Co (JPM)

  • Founded: 1916
  • Headquarters: New York City
  • Market Cap: $97 billion

John Pierpont “JP” Morgan, founder of JP Morgan, avoided serving in the American Civil War by paying a substitute $300 to take his place.

McDonald's Corp

  • Founded: 1940
  • Headquarters: Oak Brook, Illinois
  • Market Cap: $102 billion

The McDonald’s “Golden Arch” logo was nearly abandoned in 1960, but psychologist Louis Cheskin urged the company to keep it because it had a Freudian effect of subconsciously reminding people of a woman’s nourishing breasts, making them hungry.

Merck & Co (MRK)

  • Founded: 1891
  • Headquarters: Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
  • Market Cap: $162 billion

The origins of Merck date back to 1668 when Jacob Friedrich Merck bought a drug store in Darmstadt, Germany.

Microsoft (MSFT)

  • Founded: 1975
  • Headquarters: Redmond, Washington
  • Market Cap: $330 billion

Microsoft founders first founded a failed company called Traf-o-Data that read raw data from traffic counters and created reports for engineers.

Nike (NKE)

  • Founded: 1971
  • Headquarters: Washington County, Oregon
  • Market Cap: $330 billion

Nike’s slogan is based on the final words of Gary Gilmore, who was executed in 1977 after being convicted of two murders. When asked for his last words upon his execution, Gilmore replied, “Let’s do it.”

Pfizer (PFE)

  • Founded: 1849
  • Headquarters: New York City
  • Market Cap: $186 billion

Much of the penicillin used for Allied troops during the D-day landings during WWII was made by Pfizer. As an added bonus fact, Pfizer’s founder, Charles Pfizer, had quite an impressive beard.

Procter & Gamble (PG)

  • Founded: 1837
  • Headquarters: Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Market Cap: $221 billion

During the American Civil War, P&G won contracts to supply the Union army with soap and candles. Not only was that a big contract at the time, but it also acquainted the troops with P&G products, helping their sales and popularity even after the war subsided.

The Coca-Cola Company (KO)

  • Founded: 1886
  • Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Market Cap: $179 billion

John Pemberton created the original Coca-Cola recipe in an effort to combat his morphine addiction.

Travelers Companies (TRV)

  • Founded: 2004
  • Headquarters: New York City, New York
  • Market Cap: $32 billion

Travelers issued the first-ever policy for space travel for the Apollo 11 flight in 1969.

United Technologies Corp (UTX)

  • Founded: 1975
  • Headquarters: Hartford, Connecticut
  • Market Cap: $109 billion

The company is derived from a parent company that was also the origins of United Airlines and Boeing.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH)

  • Founded: 1977
  • Headquarters: Minnetonka, Minnesota
  • Market Cap: $76 billion

UnitedHealth Group is the largest health carrier in the U.S.

Verizon Communications (VZ)

  • Founded: 1983
  • Headquarters: New York City, New York
  • Market Cap: $200 billion

The name “Verizon” was chosen from a list of 8,500 potential company names; $300 million was spent marketing the name once it was chosen.

Visa (V)

  • Founded: 1958
  • Headquarters: Foster City, California
  • Market Cap: $133 billion

Visa was launched in 1958 when Bank of America mailed out 60,000 unsolicited credit cards.

Wal-Mart Stores (WMT)

  • Founded: 1962
  • Headquarters: Bentonville, Arkansas
  • Market Cap: $256 billion

Wal-Mart sells coffins of all shapes and sizes. Customers can even get a casket for the family pet if they so choose.

Walt Disney Co (DIS)

  • Founded: 1923
  • Headquarters: Los Angeles, California
  • Market Cap: $143 billion

During WWII, the Canadian and U.S governments commissioned Disney workers to produce training and propaganda films; by 1942, approximately 90% of the company was working on war-related films.

The Bottom Line

In most cases, these facts are just meant for fun rather than any kind of investing advice. If you were surprised by any of these facts, it’s a good reminder to look under the hood of a company before making an investment. Thorough research is one of the greatest tools an investor can use.

Related Resources:

Quotes of the Day:

  • "Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement". - Henry Ford
  • “A market downturn doesn’t bother us. It is an opportunity to increase our ownership of great companies with great management at good prices.” - Warren Buffett
  • "Value stocks are about as exciting as watching grass grow, but have you ever noticed just how much your grass grows in a week". - Christopher Browne
  • "The stock market is filled with individuals who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing." – Phillip Fisher
  • “Waiting helps you as an investor and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait. If you didn’t get the deferred-gratification gene, you’ve got to work very hard to overcome that.” - Charlie Munger