12 original companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (and what happened to them)
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, today’s primary indicator for the well-being of the stock market in the United States, was created in the 1880s as a daily newsletter put out by financial reporters Charles Dow and Edward Jones. Their company, Dow Jones & Co., produced the Customer’s Afternoon Letter, a recap of the day's events on the stock market.
That first newsletter in 1883 contained the average stock prices for a grouping of 12 businesses: 10 railroads and two industrial companies. The original index was reconstituted into the Dow Jones Rail Average (changed to the Dow Jones Transportation Average in the 1970s to be more inclusive of modes of transport), while a new stocks index called the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was added in 1896 to cover 12 non-railroad companies. Dow Jones & Co.’s indexes were essential reading for investors at the time, who had trouble finding reliable information about a company’s finances without that information being corrupted or hidden by the companies themselves. Today, the Transportation Average is the oldest stock index still in use, second only to the DJIA.
Dow Jones & Co. turned its newsletter into a newspaper in 1889 and called it the Wall Street Journal. The company published its first official Industrial Average May 26, 1896, with a value of 40.94, meaning the average share price of the 12 companies on the index was $40.94. Today, the DJIA contains 30 companies and eclipsed the 27,000 mark for the first time in 2019.
Stacker compiled a list of the 12 original companies that appeared in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) from Investopedia. Along with each slide, you’ll find each company’s history prior to being added in 1896, and what happened since that day. Some of the original Dow Dozen lasted only a few years, either falling victim to changes in the market or the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which put an end to a couple of these companies.
Only one of those on the following list still exists under the same name today and remains the only company to be included in the Dow for 100 consecutive years. Keep reading to find out the 12 original companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and what happened to them.
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1896: American Cotton Oil Company
The American Cotton Oil Company traces its roots to a trust established in the 1880s by a group of Texas and Arkansas cotton mill owners looking to regulate the price of seed. An antitrust lawsuit in Louisiana forced the trust to be dissolved, and the American Cotton Oil Company was born. It would remain on the Dow Jones Industrial Average until 1901.
2019: part of Unilever
American Cotton Oil was absorbed in 1929 and the name changed to Best Foods in 1931. Best Foods merged with Corn Products Company in 1958, before split into Ingredion and Bestfoods in 1997. In 2000 Unilever purchased Bestfoods, which also includes the Skippy Peanut Butter and Knorr Soups brands, for $24.3 billion.
1896: American Sugar Refining Company
Henry Havemeyer was a third-generation sugar refiner when he founded the American Sugar Refining Company in 1891. The company was created when Havemeyer’s Sugar Trust, a conglomerate of the top refiners, was ordered to be broken up by the New York State Court in 1890. The resulting American Sugar Refining Company used the name Domino Sugar beginning in 1900 and remained on the DJIA until 1930.
2019: Domino Foods
Domino Foods took the name Amstar in 1970 and sold in 1988 to Tate & Lyle, which would rename itself the Domino Sugar Corporation. American Sugar Refining purchased the company in 2001, and still operates today as Domino Foods, the largest marketer of sugar in the U.S. The New York City Domino Sugar factory, which was rebuilt following a fire in 1882, continued to refine sugar until it closed and reopened as Domino Park in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section in 2018.
1896: American Tobacco Company
The American Tobacco Company was founded in 1890 by James Buchanan Duke, who combined five major cigarette producers under one name. Duke had helped revolutionize the tobacco industry in the 1880s by introducing mass production to his family’s business, and the resulting American Tobacco Company controlled nearly 90% of the cigarettes produced in the U.S.
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1911: American Tobacco Company broken up by antitrust action
By 1907, American Tobacco had bought up nearly 250 competitors when the federal government filed an action against it under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. In 1911, on the same day that Standard Oil lost its antitrust suit, the Supreme Court ordered that the American Tobacco Company be dissolved. The company’s assets were split among three existing tobacco companies, including R. J. Reynolds, and created a new American Tobacco Co., which rejoined the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1924, where it remained until 1985.
1896: Chicago Gas Company
The Chicago Gas Company formed in the mid-19th century. It spent just two years on the Dow Jones before it was absorbed—and replaced on the index—by regional competitor Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company in 1898. Peoples fell off the Dow Jones in 1915, despite the index expanding from 12 to 20 companies.
2019: Subsidiary of Integrys Energy Group
Peoples Gas constructed a pipeline from Texas to Chicago in 1932 that allowed natural gas to be used for industrial purposes for the first time. By 1962, it could heat every home in Chicago and continued expanding with the acquisition of North Shore Natural Gas the following year. Integrys Energy Group purchased Peoples in 2007 and still operates in Illinois today as a subsidiary of Wisconsin-based WEC Energy Group, which bought Integrys in 2015 for $9.1 billion.
1896: Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company
The Distilling & Cattle Feeding Company was organized in Illinois in 1887 as a trust by a group of local distilleries, which would become known as the Whisky Trust. At its peak, the Whisky Trust produced more than 90% of the nation’s alcohol. Just a few months after debuting on the Dow, it was reorganized as American Spirits Manufacturing after it was deemed a monopoly by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1895.
2019: Millennium Chemicals
American Spirits Manufacturing would return to the Dow in 1934 as National Distillers following the lifting of Prohibition, where it remained until 1959. The business expanded into chemical and metals manufacturing during that time and sold the spirits portion of the company to James B. Beam Distilling in 1987. The chemicals aspect of American Spirits would be renamed as Quantum Chemicals in 1988, which would merge with Hanson to create Millennium Chemicals. It remains one of the world’s largest producers of titanium dioxide.
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