Dueling Fools: Wrigley Bull Rebuttal

My Foolish colleague Ryan Fuhrmann presents a most pessimistic view of my beloved Wrigley (NYSE: WWY  ) . He must hate chewing gum.

Actually, he does present a great argument. After all, free cash flow is on the decline, and his concerns about valuation have merit.

Nevertheless, I believe he is wrong about the long-term potential of Wrigley. Remember, this company has incredible products, and they aren't going away. Sure, there might be some problems in the North American marketplace, as seen in the latest earnings report. But I have to say I look at North America as a turnaround opportunity. I don't see it as a reason to panic and sell the stock.

And while international results were enhanced by a weak dollar, I'd proffer that having a consumer-products concern amply exposed to a global marketplace is a nice asset in a diversified portfolio. I can't predict how long the dollar will remain weak, but I know that owning Wrigley is a great way to safely play in overseas growth and currency differentials. Besides, worldwide volumes moved up 8%.

As to the premium being assigned Wrigley, I think Ryan answered that for himself. It isn't so much the past performance as it is the current performance of a company like Hershey (NYSE: HSY  ) ; I also agree with him about the Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE: CSG  ) situation. It's also the inherent brand equity in this case; investors will not ignore the fact that Wrigley is a blue-chip confectioner highly focused on its winning products. And if we are to talk about P/E ratios, remember that, based on estimates at Yahoo! Finance for 2008, the ratio is about 23.3 as of this writing. That's not bad, considering that the number is at or below the average P/E ratio observed for the last several years.

I like Wrigley's future. I think management will step up and grow cash flows and dividends. It's got some great confectionary assets. Yes, Wrigley is full of investment flavor, and I remain a bull.

Wait! You're not done with this Duel. Go back and read the other arguments, then vote for a winner.

Wrigley is an Income Investor recommendation. Analyst James Early loves to find stocks with good yields. Oh, and he's beating the market, too. Sign up for a free, no-risk trial to check out his portfolio.   

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 13,952 out of more than 60,000 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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