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What are blue chip stocks? An overview of blue chips

Blue chip and bull with stock market graph; what are blue chip stocks? Learn more

Key Points

  • Blue-chip stocks are shares of large, well-established companies and are reliable investments.
  • They offer numerous advantages such as consistent returns, steady income, high liquidity and minimal risk.
  • Look at a stock's financials and track record to determine if it is a blue chip.
  • 5 stocks we like better than Apple

If you've been looking for smart investments to add to your portfolio, you may have come across the term "blue-chip stocks." Blue-chip stocks are renowned for being reliable investments and can offer investors numerous advantages. 

This article will give you a comprehensive overview of the answer to the question, "What are blue chip stocks?" When you finish reading, you'll know what they are, where they come from and why they are considered a safe investment option.

What are blue chip stocks?

Blue chip stocks are stocks from well-recognized, large and financially sound companies. The term "blue chip" is derived from poker, where the pieces with the highest value are blue chips. As such, these investments have a strong track record of success and are reliable regarding dividends and capital appreciation.

Overview of blue-chip stocks

The term "blue chip" originated in 1923 with Oliver Gingold, who worked on Wall Street at Dow Jones & Co. He coined the term to describe stocks with high value and potential for long-term growth. Blue-chip stocks usually grow over time and outperform market indices such as the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). The term comes from poker, where the highest-value chips are blue, so a blue chip refers to some of the highest-quality stocks on the market. 

A blue-chip stock comes from a well-established company with consistently strong performance. These stocks have a long history of paying dividends and increasing their market share. Blue-chip stocks also tend to be resilient when markets take a dip.


Since well-established and successful companies issue them, their prices tend to rise more slowly than other stocks, making them less likely to experience rapid drops during downturns. They have strong balance sheets and business models, making them one of the safest investments. Investing in blue chips makes your investment more likely to bring good returns with relatively low risk.

Blue chips tend to have higher dividend yields, providing more income without selling the stock. These stocks also tend to be less risky because their performance is more predictable than other stocks. The downside is that a blue chip stock doesn't always outperform the market. You may miss out on potential returns if you don't diversify your portfolio with other investments.

So, what is a blue chip stock? Here are some classic historical examples of blue chip stocks:

  • Apple Inc. NASDAQ: AAPL has been around since 1976, making it one of the oldest tech companies operating today. It was initially a computer hardware company but now focuses on developing consumer electronics such as iPhones and iPads.
  • Microsoft Corporation NASDAQ: MSFT is another established tech giant founded in 1975 by former Harvard University classmates Bill Gates and Paul Allen. It produces software for computers, mobile devices, gaming consoles and more. It has consistently expanded into new markets, such as cloud computing.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Inc. NYSE: BRK.A is an investment fund led by Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors in history. The company owns a diverse range of businesses, including GEICO, Dairy Queen and Duracell.

what are blue chip stocks

How to identify blue-chip stocks

The basic criteria for a stock to be considered a blue-chip investment is that it must come from an established company with long-term growth potential and strong performance. These companies typically feature large market capitalizations, high dividend yields, and consistent revenues. 

Be sure to look at financial statements such as the company's income statement, balance sheet and cash flow reports. You should also review management strategies, competitive performance in their industry sector, news stories related to the business, and analysis from financial experts.

A blue-chip stock should have a strong business model, competitive advantage, and a consistent profit history. 

Another key factor to consider is the company's management team. Look for one with a strong track record of making smart decisions and guiding the company wisely. Solid management helps ensure the company will continue to be successful in the long term.

Characteristics of blue-chip stocks

Blue-chip stocks are those of large, well-established and financially sound companies. These companies have operated for many years. Due to their stable history and outlook, their stocks offer investors a steady stream of dividend income and capital appreciation. High yield blue chips usually have a track record of raising dividends over time and have a reputation for stability in the market.

Blue-chip stocks are often less volatile than other types of stocks, which makes them attractive if you're a conservative investor seeking low-risk investments. Here are some critical characteristics of blue-chip stocks:

  • Reputation: Blue-chip stocks are associated with more established companies with a long history of success.
  • Financials: These stocks typically have strong balance sheets, consistent revenues and healthy cash flows.
  • Stability: Since they're associated with larger companies with long-standing operating histories, blue chips are more insulated from sudden market shifts. Blue chips are also less volatile due to their diversification across different industries and sectors, which makes them an appealing choice if you want steady returns.
  • High dividend yields: Blue-chip stocks usually offer higher dividend yields than other investments. The companies behind these high-yield blue chips have established dividend policies where they can provide attractive returns to their shareholders.

Reasons to invest in blue-chip stocks 

Blue-chip stocks can offer you numerous advantages. They are some of the most popular investments because they provide a reliable and safe option. Here are five reasons to invest in blue-chip stocks.

Reason 1: Diversification 

Investing in blue-chip stocks can provide diversification for your portfolio. They tend to have lower volatility than other types of stocks. You're less likely to experience significant losses if one stock performs poorly. Because the companies behind these stocks tend to operate in different sectors and industries, you can diversify further by investing in blue chips across various industries.

Reason 2: Income

Blue-chip stocks usually offer higher dividend yields than other stocks, making them a solid choice if you want regular income from your portfolio. These companies have strong financials and a record of paying dividends with good yields. They're likely to continue to deliver steady dividends over time.

Reason 3: Stability

Companies behind blue-chip stocks have a long operating history and strong financials, making them reliable investments over the long term. Since blue-chip stocks tend to be less volatile than other investments, they're more likely to provide steady returns. Investing in blue chips at a low stock price can offer you a prime opportunity for capital appreciation. However, while these stocks are generally more stable, their share prices fluctuate and may dip below their 52-week lows

Reason 4: Recession protection

Blue-chip stocks are often recession-resistant. These stocks generate strong balance sheets, steady revenues and healthy cash flows. They can provide a buffer against economic downturns because they're more insulated from sudden market shifts.

Reason 5: High liquidity

Blue-chip stocks are heavily traded. Having several buyers and sellers make blue-chip stocks easy to buy, sell, or trade quickly. If needed, you can easily access your capital because more buyers and sellers provide more liquidity to the market.

Reason 6: Valuation 

Blue-chip stocks may not experience the same type of volatility as other stocks, but they usually have high valuations and are relatively expensive compared to other equities. They have strong fundamentals and consistent track records, making them popular investments.

Reason 7: Tax advantages

Investing in blue chips can also offer several tax advantages, depending on your circumstances. If you reinvest your dividends in more shares of the same stock (known as "dividend reinvestment"), this may help you reduce your taxes. Consult with a tax professional to see if investing in blue chips can provide you with any tax advantages.

Examples of blue-chip stocks

The criteria to determine whether a company qualifies as a blue-chip stock may vary, but generally, investors tend to look for companies with strong financial metrics such as profitability and stability, a high market cap (typically over $10 billion), low debt-to-equity ratios and large dividend payments or buyback programs.

You should also look at the sector in which the company operates. Companies that have been around for years can offer greater stability than newcomers. Blue-chip stocks can come from various industries, some of the most common being banks, technology, and energy.

Here is a list of blue-chip stocks, along with their key characteristics:

  • Apple Inc. NYSE: AAPL: This tech giant is one of the most well-known companies in the world. It has delivered steady returns. Apple's long track record in tech and its reputation as an innovator makes it a popular choice.
  • Microsoft Co. NYSE: MSFT: Microsoft is one of the largest tech companies in the world. Its stock has seen significant growth over the past decade. As an industry leader, this blue-chip stock can offer you high stability.
  • Johnson & Johnson NYSE: JNJ: The pharmaceutical company has existed for over 100 years. It shows consistent returns and dividends. Johnson & Johnson makes a great choice if you're looking for income from your portfolio.
  • Exxon Mobil Co. NYSE: XOM: Exxon Mobil Co. is the largest publicly traded oil and gas company in the United States and the fourth largest in the world.
  • Walmart Inc. NYSE: WMT: Walmart is one of the world's largest retailers, offering competitive prices on everyday items. Its stock has been relatively stable.

Why blue-chip stocks matter in investment portfolios

Adding blue-chip stocks to your portfolio can help you reduce risk and provide long-term stability. Blue chips have strong balance sheets, proven track records, generous dividend payouts or buybacks, and low volatility. Blue chip stocks can also offer tax advantages in some cases. Reinvesting your dividends may leave you subject to fewer taxes than capital gains you achieve from trading more volatile securities like penny stocks.

Even better, their stability makes them appealing to conservative investors because they generate consistent returns over an extended period. Plus, their ability to increase rapidly at any time gives more aggressive traders the chance to grab short-term gains by timing their entry and exit points.

Advantages of investing in blue-chip stocks

Blue-chip stocks provide diversification, higher dividend yields, lower volatility and more stability than other types of investments. Blue chips also tend to weather economic downturns better due to their strong market presence and brand recognition. They tend to offer high liquidity, not to mention tax advantages depending on your circumstances.

Blue chip stocks have historically provided extremely consistent returns, even outlasting tough economic cycles like The Great Recession of 2007 – 2009. During this period, leading blue-chip companies like Apple and Johnson & Johnson continued to deliver strong returns to their investors.

For example, during the recession in 2009, Apple's stock price remained relatively stable and experienced growth over the next few years. 

Similarly, Johnson & Johnson's reputation for stability and consistent dividend payments meant its stock could provide steady returns even during rocky economic times. This was especially important for investors looking for reliable income from their portfolios.

Risks and challenges associated with blue-chip stocks

Despite the advantages of investing in blue-chip stocks, they come with a few risks. These include potential volatility due to market factors, unexpected economic conditions and industry-specific risks associated with any particular stock.

For instance, Apple’s stock can be vulnerable to changes in technology trends or shifts in public opinion. For instance, if people are perceived not to like the latest iPhone model, the company's stock could fall. And external events can drastically impact even established companies that would normally be considered “safe investments." This was the case in 2020 when the global pandemic dragged down the entire market due to uncertainty.

To mitigate the risks associated with blue-chip stocks, do your research and make informed decisions. Analyzing a company's financials and long-term prospects can help you determine whether a stock is viable. Always diversify your portfolio to spread risk across multiple stocks and industries to cushion any loss. 

Don't forget to monitor economic trends and be prepared to sell off a stock if market conditions change drastically. But also keep a long-term perspective and avoid making reactionary decisions based on short-term movements.

Consider investing in blue-chip funds 

If you want a diversified portfolio, consider investing in blue-chip funds. These mutual and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) invest primarily in blue-chip stocks. Investing in a blue-chip fund allows you to diversify your portfolio without buying individual stocks.

The benefits of investing in a blue-chip fund include:

  • Low management costs: The administrative costs of an ETF are typically lower due to passive management.
  • High liquidity: Blue-chip funds tend to have high liquidity because they contain easily traded stocks, which means you can access your capital quickly if needed.
  • Stability: Because these funds focus on large, established companies, they tend to be less volatile than other investments. They can offer you steady returns and a way to reduce portfolio risk.
  • Diversification: These funds offer you exposure to different industries and sectors. They can help you spread out your investments among the most reliable companies in the world.

Investing in blue-chip funds can be a great option if you want reliable returns with minimal risk. It can also give you access to some of the biggest and most well-known companies.

The bottom line on blue-chip stocks

Blue-chip stocks are an appealing option if you're looking for a long-term, low-risk approach to investing. They offer a variety of advantages, such as consistency in returns, steady income, high liquidity, low risk and recession protection. 

Investing in blue-chip funds allows you to access diversification across companies and industries. Investing in blue chips can bring you peace of mind. You'll know your portfolio is in the hands of some of the most reliable companies in the world.

FAQs

You may have further questions after discovering the answer to "What is a blue chip stock?" Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about these types of stocks.

What are considered blue chip stocks? 

Blue-chip stocks are shares of large, well-established companies and are proven reliable investments. The best blue-chip stocks on MarketBeat offer numerous advantages, such as consistent returns, steady income, high liquidity and minimal risk.

Is Apple a blue-chip stock?

Yes, Apple is a blue-chip stock. It is one of the world's largest and most well-known companies, offering reliable returns and dividend yields. As a leader in the tech industry, investing in Apple can provide you with a high level of stability.

How do you know if a stock is a blue chip? 

To determine if a stock is a blue chip, look at its financials and track record, including whether it has a large market capitalization (at least $10 billion). It should also have strong balance sheets, high liquidity and healthy dividend yields. Look for companies that have consistently performed well and are leaders in their respective industries.

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Companies Mentioned in This Article

CompanyMarketRank™Current PricePrice ChangeDividend YieldP/E RatioConsensus RatingConsensus Price Target
Apple (AAPL)
4.7862 of 5 stars
$192.35+0.7%0.52%29.91Moderate Buy$204.71
Exxon Mobil (XOM)
4.4882 of 5 stars
$117.87-0.7%3.22%14.44Moderate Buy$135.00
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
4.8448 of 5 stars
$151.250.0%3.28%9.43Hold$175.86
Microsoft (MSFT)
4.8349 of 5 stars
$429.04+0.9%0.70%37.15Moderate Buy$454.70
Walmart (WMT)
4.5549 of 5 stars
$65.15+1.5%1.27%27.88Moderate Buy$68.01
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Claire Shefchik

About Claire Shefchik

  • shefchikclaire@gmail.com

Contributing Author

Energy, Commodities

Experience

Claire Shefchik has been a contributing writer for MarketBeat since 2023.

Areas of Expertise

Finance, business

Education

Bachelor of Arts in Writing, University of Arizona; Master of Fine Arts in Writing, Sarah Lawrence College

Past Experience

Business editor, BVI Beacon, senior writer, Business BVI


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