Dueling Fools: Wrigley Bull

Chew on this, my friends -- I'm bullish on Wrigley (NYSE: WWY  ) .

I love solid companies built on a portfolio of high-profile brands and more than willing to share the love with their stockholders through dividends. Wrigley fits this description to a T.

My dueling partner Ryan Fuhrmann is bearish on Wrigley's prospects. There's nothing wrong with that. It is his absolute right to rain on my parade. But parade I will, for I'd like to argue in favor of a consumer-products business that definitely won't lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight. Let me unwrap a few reasons why investors should definitely consider buying and holding this stock.

Stick No. 1: You know the products
What is one of the many secrets to Warren Buffett's success? Know what you are buying. Buffett admits that he doesn't know a lot about technology, so he hasn't dabbled much in that area. He owns a ton of Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) stock, though, as well as a sizeable amount of Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) after it purchased Gillette. He likes the fact that once someone has downed a bottle of Coke, they'll most likely buy another one soon enough. And razor blades are a great business because there are a lot of early-morning shavers out there.

Wrigley isn't hard to understand, unless you find gum too intellectually complex to comprehend (I do find it intellectually annoying when I step on it, however). Let's see -- there's Wrigley's gums, Juicy Fruit, Orbit, Eclipse, Big Red, Extra, and so on and so forth. And let's not forget Altoids mints and Life Savers. Consumers buy a pack, they consume, and they buy again. Lather-rinse-repeat is a winning business model, mostly because Wrigley, like Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE: CSG  ) , Hershey (NYSE: HSY  ) , and Tootsie Roll (NYSE: TR  ) , works hard to brand the heck out of its products.

Stick No. 2: Confections equal cash flow
All of the above is meaningless unless a company can effectively leverage its brand to deliver significant cash flows (though I, unfortunately, can never effectively leverage gum from the sole of my shoe). Wrigley has done well on this count, as data from its latest 10-K annual report suggest (dollars in millions).




Net revenue




Net income




Free cash flow




Dividends paid




Sure, this isn't a screaming growth situation, but the numbers do generally describe a fine business with rigid fundamentals. Yes, I'm sure you've noticed something I pointed out in a previous Take on Wrigley's earnings -- free cash flow is on the decline because of increased capital spending. In the end, Wrigley's build-out should be worth it. Free cash flow and dividends should rise over time as new investments and acquisitions add to the company's brand value.

Stick No. 3: A nice, effective yield over time
I mentioned dividends last for good reason. Holding Wrigley and reinvesting the quarterly checks back into additional shares should lead to prosperity for your portfolio.

I believe Wrigley will be able to consistently raise its annual dividend; each time it does so, it'll make the yield on an original investment that much greater. Right now, the stock is yielding about 2%. Down the road, an individual might be looking forward to yields much higher than that.

Back in February, Wrigley upped its quarterly payout. This has been par for the course for the gum giant. Dividends can really add up; companies that do well in this area are not to be underestimated.

Stick No. 4: Gum is a good defense against bears
Now, come on -- can a pack of Big Red really ward off an attacking grizzly? Not if we're talking real bears. But if you're talking about the ones that prowl on Wall Street, then chewing gum might be all you need.

Look, I'm not going to tell you that Wrigley won't go down when the market has a hiccup. It will. But there's a reasonable chance that it won't be as volatile as non-dividend-paying equities. It can be classified as a classic defensive stock. Let's see -- growth stocks go out of favor because no one's buying the latest trendy product or service because of one confidence-sapping macro event or other. That'll happen. Yet people will still chew gum; no one's going to sacrifice such a low-cost habit, at least not to any significant degree. So Wrigley can definitely add a bit of sleep-at-night comfort to your psyche; it'll help to balance some risky holdings in the interest of prudent diversification.

The final stick
That's my pack of reasons as to why one should be bullish on Wrigley. Great brands, strong cash flows, superb dividend history, a defensive business -- Wrigley is a great stock to own for one, three, or five years or more. What could Ryan possibly dislike about Wrigley?

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

Wrigley is a selection of the Income Investor service. 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 winning portfolio.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Coca-Cola. As of this writing, he was ranked 6,867 out of more than 60,000 investors in the Motley Fool CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. Coca-Cola is an Inside Value recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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