Joseph Mansueto, CEO and founder of mutual-fund research company Morningstar Inc., is building his index business. The Dow is for sale.
Will he bite?
"It certainly is doable," said Elliot Schlang, a Cleveland-based Soleil Securities Group Inc. analyst who includes Morningstar on his list of 30 Midwest stock picks. "I would not think it out of the realm of possibilities that Morningstar would at least have some interest."
Buying the granddaddy of stock market indexes — which News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch reportedly put on the block last month — would be a coup for Mr. Mansueto, making his Chicago company an instant powerhouse in an industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue a year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 blue-chip companies, introduced in 1896 by Charles Dow himself, is the best-known barometer of stock market activity. Today, there are hundreds of indexes that bear the Dow name.
Mr. Murdoch bought the indexes as part of his $5.6-billion acquisition in 2007 of Dow Jones Inc., but they were never seen as core assets for the company, said Mike Simonton, a media analyst at Fitch Ratings in Chicago. The business makes money by licensing the Dow name to companies such as CME Group Inc., which use the indexes to build their own products, such as futures contracts or exchange-traded funds.
"It's a logical candidate for divestiture," Mr. Simonton said of the index business. A Dow Jones spokesman declined to comment.