Stock prices will inevitably reach record highs during bull markets, but milestones are a big deal, as we saw in the response to the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing above 22,000 for the first time Wednesday.
You might expect technology stocks to dominate the list of U.S. equities at all-time highs. But the list of 25 S&P 500 stocks that just hit a closing record includes five insurance companies. This group has had attractive price-to-earnings valuations and investors see better times ahead for property/casualty and life insurers as interest rates rise, while health insurers are riding the Washington gravy train.
Shares of Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.35% the largest component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.05% were up nearly 5% to hit a new closing high of $157.14 on Wednesday, on the strength of its better-than-expected earnings results and the anticipation of a new iPhone. The stock has returned 37% this year, with dividends reinvested. Its market value increased by $43.6 billion Wednesday to $811.7 billion.
But the Dow is made up of only 30 stocks. The benchmark S&P 500 Index SPX, -0.15% was up only slightly Wednesday, though it eked out a record closing high, and 25 of its components closed at all-time closing highs.
Here are those 25, sorted by total return for 2017:
CompanyTickerIndustryTotal return - 2017 through Aug. 3Record closing price - Aug. 3Price increase - Aug. 3
FMC Corp,FMC, +0.30%Chemicals49%$77.358.4%
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.RCL, +2.39%Cruiselines44%$116.870.4%
C.R. Baird Inc.BCR, -1.19%Medical Specialties44%$320.260.7%
Albemarle Corp.ALB, +0.02% Chemicals40%$117.431.7%
Apple Inc.AAPL, -0.35%Telecom. and Computer Equipment37%$150.054.7%
Avery Dennison Corp.AVY, -0.89%Containers/ Packaging35%$93.440.7%
Ametek Inc.AME, -0.33%Misc. Manufacturing33%$61.624.2%
Cigna Corp.CI, +0.44%Managed Health Care31%$172.961.0%
Visa Inc. Class AV, -0.51%Finance/ Rental/ Leasing30%$100.870.4%
Allstate Corp.ALL, -0.29%Property/ Casualty Insurance28%$91.003.5%
NextEra Energy Inc.NEE, +0.35%Electric Utilities25%$146.570.1%
Scripps Network Interactive Inc. Class ASNI, +0.04%Movies/ Entertainment24%$87.570.5%
Fortive Corp.FTV, -0.20%Electronic Equipment/ Instruments24%$65.201.7%
Raytheon Co.RTN, -0.52%Aerospace and Defense24%$171.471.4%
Xylem Inc.XYL, -1.23%Industrial Machinery22%$59.301.0%
UnitedHealth Group Inc.UNH, +0.39%Managed Health Care22%$192.230.4%
Honewell International Inc.HON, -0.11%Industrial Conglomerates21%$137.011.2%
Lockheed Martin Corp.LMT, -0.29%Aerospace and Defense19%$292.650.7%
Aflac Inc.AFL, +0.23%Life/ Health Insurance18%$80.890.3%
Amphenol Corp. Class AAPH, +0.33%Electronic Components16%$77.380.6%
Northrop Grumman Corp.NOC, -0.30%Aerospace and Defense16%$264.640.8%
Harris Corp.HRS, +0.06%Telecom. Equipment15%$115.850.3%
Chubb Ltd.CB, +0.13%Property/ Casualty Insurance14%$148.070.6%
Prudential Financial Inc.PRU, -2.58%Financial Conglomerates12%$114.400.7%
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class BBRK.B, +0.02%Financial Conglomerates9%$176.290.9%
• Allstate Corp. ALL, -0.35% was up 3.5% Wednesday. The insurer’s second-quarter earnings more than doubled, and it announced a $2 billion stock-repurchase program, expected to be completed by February 2019.