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Consistency is king when it comes to dividends. Not only would we, as dividend seekers, like to receive a hefty quarterly distribution, but we'd ultimately like for that distribution to be consistently growing. For investors in the beverage sector, this is something they've become all too familiar with.
One of the primary advantages of being in the beverage sector is the high barrier to entry. With few, but very large, companies occupying the soda, juice, and coffee space, investors have come to expect a certain level of consistency when it comes to earnings growth and dividend payments. Even the worst economic times won't put a major dent in the bottom line of the majority of the beverage sector, since consumers are going to be thirsty no matter what.
That type of consistency makes two companies in this sector an attractive purchase for income-seeking investors. On the other hand, another company could be playing with fire by paying out a quarterly dividend.
Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) -- trust it
You sort of knew it was inevitable that the No. 1 soft-drink producer would find its way onto this list.
As of its late April earnings report, regular Coke retained its position as the most dominant soft drink on the market, with a 17% share. Coca-Cola's diet business also saw major gains, with its diet Coke eclipsing PepsiCo's (NYSE: PEP ) namesake offering 9.9% to 9.5%. With last week's report in the books, every facet of Coke's business is showing growth. Global carbonated beverage volume rose by 5%, while noncarbonated beverages bubbled higher by 7%. Worldwide volume for the quarter also jumped 6%, with the biggest gains seen in China, Russia, Mexico, and France.
With Coca-Cola having such a worldwide presence, it should come as no surprise why the company's dividend has been raised an incredible 49 consecutive years. Now paying out a tidy 2.7% annual yield and having grown that yield at an annual rate of 9.1% over the past five years, this is arguably one of the safest dividends around. Expectations call for Coca-Cola to grow at 9.2% over the next five years, making that dividend growth rate seem all the more sustainable.
PepsiCo -- trust it
This is one of those rare cases where there should absolutely be room in your portfolio for the two largest rivals in the beverage sector. For those hoping to see Dr Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS ) here following its addition to the second-quarter dividend champions list -- it nearly made it. The only concern stems from the company's lack of dividend history since becoming public in 2008. Income seekers love a healthy dividend, and at north of 3%, Dr Pepper Snapple Group does offer that, but I'd much rather lock in Pepsi's 39 consecutive years of dividend increases in my portfolio if given the choice.
While Pepsi's growth hasn't been nearly as impressive as Coca-Cola's of late, emerging market growth continues to be a stabilizing factor for the company. Its food and beverage business in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East jumped by 17%, with the Latin America food unit showing an 18% jump. Tough competition in North America (i.e., Coca-Cola) has stymied growth, but that hasn't stopped Pepsi's dividend from motoring higher.
As noted earlier, the company raised its dividend for a stunning 39th consecutive year in May. The company now yields 3.1% and has seen an annual growth rate of 12.6% in its dividend over the past five years, eclipsing even Coke. Fellow Fool Dan Caplinger has given PepsiCo his stamp of approval, and I'm inclined to do the same.
Coffee Holdings (Nasdaq: JVA ) -- avoid it
I really, really like coffee, but buying into Coffee Holdings for all the wrong reasons at these levels could leave shareholders with a very bitter taste in their mouths. Relying on Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR ) for nearly half of its revenue, Coffee Holdings sits in a precarious position. It can easily continue to ride the coattails of Green Mountain higher, but it could also implode if Green Mountain takes its business elsewhere at any point in the future.
Then there's Coffee Holding's balance sheet. Trading at nearly 20 times EBITDA and more than 100 times its levered free cash flow, I have to wonder what optimists are thinking, especially with margins in the very low single-digits. Even with revenue up 60% since 2006, cash flow has not improved much -- if at all.
Despite this, Coffee Holding currently pays out a $0.03 quarterly dividend. This 0.6% yield might attract the fly-by investor, but it's not fooling me! With half of its revenue tied to one company and stagnant free cash flow, the company's dividend could become a distant memory in the not-so-distant future. I'd sleep much better at night owning Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) with its 1.3% yield because of its global presence than I would owning Coffee Holding.
You aren't going to find surprise 30% pops in your portfolio by owning beverage companies. What you will get is a better night's sleep and very minimal hair loss. It's very difficult to argue against owning two beverage companies that have raised their dividends 49 and 39 consecutive years, while it appears cut and dried why Coffee Holding should be poured down the drain.
What's your take on the beverage sector? Would you drink up these dividend players here or do you have something better up your sleeve? Share your ideas in the comments section below and consider adding Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Coffee Holding to your watchlist to keep up on the latest in the beverage sector.