The Dow Jones Industrial Average includes 30 of the most prestigious U.S. companies in the world, with most of them leaders in their respective fields. Yet the Dow doesn't include Apple -- the biggest company in the world throughout most of 2012 and still the biggest technology company by a wide margin. Here are just a few of the many reasons Apple deserves to take its place in the Dow.

1. A dominant brand.
Apple has done an amazing job of bolstering its brand presence around the globe in recent years. Just last year, Interbrand ranked Apple as the second most valuable brand in the world, finishing second only to Coca-Cola and earning the distinction of seeing its brand value more than double in just a single year to more than $76.5 billion. By demonstrating its desire to give people exactly what they want -- often before they even know it -- Apple has captured a nearly fanatical loyalty among many of its customers.


Source: Apple Press Info.

2. A lucrative dividend.
Every stock in the Dow pays a dividend, but until recently, Apple didn't. Last year, though, Apple paid its first quarterly dividend in 17 years, and its 2.5% dividend yield equates to about $10 billion in dividend payments to shareholders on an annual basis. Apple has clearly established itself as a stock not only for growth investors but for those seeking income as well.

3. A history of product innovation.
The company that created the iPod, iPhone, and iPad has revolutionized the way people deal with computing devices. Some question whether the death of Steve Jobs put a halt to Apple's innovative tradition, but Apple hasn't stopped seeking new ways to bring valuable and exciting products to market, and the company has retained its top ranking from management consultant Booz & Company despite spending a fraction of what competitors Samsung and Microsoft pay for research and development.

Source: Apple Press Info.

4. The ability to split its stock.
The reason most often cited for Apple's not being in the Dow is that its share price so high that it would create a severe imbalance in the price-weighted average. Yet while Apple hasn't split its stock lately, it has done so in the past, with its most recent split coming in 2005. If a spot in the Dow were on the line, CEO Tim Cook would probably jump at the chance to do a stock split.

5. The perfect opportunity for the Dow to add a stock at a cheap valuation.
The Dow has historically had a mixed track record in its timing in adding new companies. It added Microsoft near its tech-bubble peak, as the stock performed dismally during the ensuing tech bust. But with Apple now 40% off its highs, the managers of the Dow have a chance to avoid the buy-high mentality that it has sometimes used before.

Get Apple into the Dow!
Many Apple hecklers will undoubtedly argue that the company's best days are behind it. Yet because of both its past accomplishments and its potential for growth well into the future, the Dow would be well served by admitting Apple to its ranks.

Apple may belong in the Dow, but investors aren't sure whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

The article Apple Deserves a Place in the Dow originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger owns shares of Apple. You can follow him on Twitter: @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Coca-Cola and owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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