When Will Amazon Replace Wal-Mart or Home Depot on the Dow?

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There doesn't seem to be a lot that Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) can't do these days. The dot-com darling is on top of the world, padding its lead in online retail and now with a $13.7 billion deal in place to have a significant bricks-and-mortar presence. 

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Amazon's the belle of the growth investor ball at the moment, but the one club that it can't seem to get invited to is the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Amazon has been a component of the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 for years, but it hasn't made the cut in the exclusive and seemingly elusive Dow 30. It's just a matter of time, and it won't be a surprise if it replaces Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) or Home Depot (NYSE: HD) on the iconic market gauge.

How now, Dow cow?

Amazon is certainly worthy of being one of the market's 30 bellwethers, and it wouldn't be a shock if it replaced Wal-Mart or Home Depot as the two other retailers in the oft-cited stock index. The online retailer surpassed Wal-Mart in terms of market cap two summers ago, and it flashed its high-beams and overtook Home Depot well before that. Amazon's $478.7 billion enterprise value is now more than the $475.9 billion in enterprise value that Wal-Mart and Home Depot command combined. Amazon belongs in the index, and the real question here is if it will replace one of the two existing retailers in the Dow 30 or if will just become its third component.

None of this will happen, of course, until Amazon declares a stock split. With its stock north of $1,000 again, there's no way it's getting into the price-weighted index. Unlike the market-weighted S&P 500, the Dow moves based on dollars instead of percentage points, and there's no way that Amazon is getting inducted into the elite squad of market tastemakers when its stock price is more than four times higher than the Dow 30's highest-priced component. Amazon's stock price is higher than the Dow's 15 lowest-priced stocks, so it's not going in if it can offset half of the index. An Amazon stock split is inevitable, even if it has nothing to do with pining for inclusion in the Dow 30.

Let's fast-forward to the days following Amazon's stock split. Can the Dow justify keeping Wal-Mart and Home Depot but not the country's most valuable retailer? Probably not. It's true that Wal-Mart generates more net sales than Amazon, but the market feels that Amazon is the superior company because of its headier growth and heartier growth prospects. Amazon's growth -- especially once its organic grocery deal goes through -- will also be coming at Wal-Mart's expense even more in the future, and the Dow doesn't want to be stuck with a losing race ticket. 

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Home Depot generates lower revenue than Amazon or Wal-Mart, but it's not in the Dow 30 just because it's a retailer. The retailer behind the orange aprons is a measuring stick for the housing and home improvement industries. Amazon is more likely to replace Wal-Mart than boot Home Depot, though when you get down to it Amazon is so much more than just a retailer. It can replace the weakest of the Dow 30 components and the move would still make sense.

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Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.