What Happened to the First DJIA Stocks?

The first DJIA stocks bore little resemblance to the Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks of today.

For one thing, Charles Dow launched his DJIA on May 26, 1896, with just 12 stocks. It expanded to 20 stocks in 1916, but did not reach its current count of 30 until 1928.

Most of the original DJIA stocks are completely unknown now.

The names paint a gritty picture of the U.S. corporate powers of the day. The very first DJIA stocks included two gas companies, two agricultural companies, and representatives from the chemical, steel, leather, and rubber industries.

But while the types of companies may look very different, the general criteria Charles Dow used to select those companies 119 years ago remains the same.

Dow wanted the DJIA to be a cross-section of the U.S. economy. And so he chose to include big, influential companies that represent core industries. That same philosophy guides the committee that selects Dow Jones Industrial Average stocks to this day.

Here's a complete list of the first 12 DJIA stocks. It includes when each company was dropped from the index as well as what became of it:

Company: American Cotton Oil
Business: Cottonseed oil production
Status: Evolved into Best Foods; now part of Unilever.
Out of DJIA: 1901
Company: American Sugar
Business: Sugar Refining
Status: Became ASR Group. Owns multiple brands, including Domino.
Out of DJIA: 1930
Company: American Tobacco
Business: Tobacco sales
Status: Trust broken up in 1911. Spinoffs included R.J. Reynolds, Liggett & Myers, Lorillard and American Tobacco (now Fortune Brands).
Out of DJIA: 1985
Company: Chicago Gas
Business: Gas heat supplier
Status: Merged with People's Gas in 1898. Part of Integrys Energy Group.
Out of DJIA: 1915
Company: Distilling & Cattle Feeding
Business: Spirits and alcohol
Status: Shifted from liquor to chemical production. Now Milennium Chemicals.
Out of DJIA: 1899
Company: General Electric
Business: Electric power and devices
Status: Large multinational conglomerate.
Out of DJIA: Currently in DJIA.
Company: Laclede Gas
Business: Gas heat and lighting
Status: Main subsidiary of The Laclede Group.
Out of DJIA: 1899
Company: National Lead
Business: Lead mining and smelting
Status: Now NL Industries. Major supplier of titanium oxide pigments.
Out of DJIA: 1916
Company: North American Company
Business: Financed rail, transit and utility ventures
Status: Dissolved in 1938. Successor became Wisconsin Electric.
Out of DJIA: 1896 (added back in 1928, dropped for good in 1930)
Company: Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company
Business: Steel manufacturing
Status: Merged with U.S. Steel in 1907.
Out of DJIA: 1907 (replaced by U.S. Steel)
Company: U.S. Leather
Business: Tanned leather with hemlock bark extract
Status: Merged with Central Leather in 1909. Liquidated in 1952.
Out of DJIA: 1905 (as Central Leather from 1912-1924)
Company: United States Rubber
Business: Rubber manufacturing
Status: Became Uniroyal in 1961. Part of Michelin Group since 1990.
Out of DJIA: 1928

Sources: Money Morning Staff Research

Don't Overlook the Dow Rejects: Whenever we see changes to the DJIA stocks, some investors assume the dumped companies should be avoided. But a look at the record indicates just the opposite. In fact, in the years that follow, most of the Dow rejects actually outperform the companies that replaced them. Here's why it happens - and how you can use this phenomenon to profit...

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About the Author

David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.

Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.

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