Apple joins the Dow Jones Industrial Average

S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that Apple will join the Dow Jones Industrial Average on March 19, replacing telecommunications giant AT&T Inc. A planned stock split by Visa Inc. this month reduced the information technology-sector weighting of the Dow, clearing the way for Apple’s inclusion.

The changes are scheduled to take place after the close of trading on March 18.

A committee of Wall Street Journal and S&P Dow Jones Indices representatives chooses stocks in the Dow index after considering factors such as the companies’ growth record, relevance to investors, and reputation. As the largest company in the world by market value, Apple is a “clear choice” for the index, according to David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee and S&P Dow Jones Indices. Apple’s annualized total return of 36% over a decade reflects the company’s strong brand image and leading role in the technology industry.

Despite being a milestone breakthrough for Apple, the change is unlikely to cause any immediate shift in investor behavior. Dow Industrials’ $32.9 billion of funds compose only a fraction of the $1.88 trillion of assets tracked in the S&P 500 index. The company’s addition, however, can introduce more vulnerability in the Dow to sharp shifts in markets. According to options-data provider Trade Alert, Apple shares are twice as volatile as AT&T’s, its predecessor in the index.