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Many commentators like to talk about a lost decade for stocks. To be sure, the 36% return for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI ) over the past 10 years is pretty pathetic. Remember, though, that the index has been weighed down by decade deadbeats like Bank of America. For some other high-quality stocks though, things haven't been that bad. PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP ) is one such company. It's had a total return of 82% over the same period.
But is Pepsi's stock a good buy today? Here are three reasons why I think the answer is a resounding "yes" and why this stock could stomp the Dow for another decade.
1. For the love of brands
PepsiCo does, of course, own the Pepsi brand (duh!). But while the fizzy cola is the flagship of PepsiCo's beverage business, it's only one of many well-known drinkables that the company sells. But unlike chief rival Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) , PepsiCo is split nearly 50/50 in terms of revenue between beverages and food products. Making up 48% of PepsiCo's topline, the company's food and snack arm also has an enviable portfolio of major global brands.
At the end of 2011, PepsiCo could brag that it had 22 billion-dollar brands. The list includes:
- Mountain Dew
- Starbucks Ready-to-Drink (through a partnership with Starbucks)
I happen to think PepsiCo has a fine management team headed by CEO Indra Nooyi. However, with a portfolio of brands that's that strong, it's easy to think of PepsiCo as one of the companies that Warren Buffett would say could be run by a ham sandwich.
In other words, with a fantastic brand lineup like PepsiCo's, many risks that investors face are mitigated.
2. Emerging markets
One of the hottest trends for major multinational companies is rapid expansion overseas, particularly in emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. At this point, Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) gets only 37% of its revenue from the U.S., while close to 30% of Colgate-Palmolive's revenue comes from Latin America alone.
PepsiCo has recently seen its strongest growth overseas. During the first quarter, the Latin America Foods division grew revenue 17% on a constant-currency basis, while AMEA (Asia, the Middle East, and Africa) saw its sales jump 12%.
There may be a lot more opportunity ahead for PepsiCo's overseas business. For 2011, 56% of Coke's total revenue came from outside North America. For PepsiCo that share was only 38%.
Overseas expansion doesn't happen by accident, though, and PepsiCo has put a significant focus on making sure it has the right products to succeed in new markets. The company's done this through a combination of acquisitions -- like diary-focused beverage company Wimm-Bill-Dann in Russia and cookie maker Mabel in Brazil -- as well as its own local-taste-focused product development.
3. The bigger picture
One the reasons I'm a big fan of Indra Nooyi is the emphasis she's put on the broader impact of the company in terms of things like nutrition and its impact on the planet.
That's right, I said "nutrition" when talking about the company whose flagship products include sugary soda and greasy potato chips. Yes, PepsiCo makes a lot of phenomenally unhealthy products, but there are plenty of people who want to eat that stuff. However, the company is also putting a focus on on-the-go food and drinks for consumers who want to make healthier choices. This includes healthier versions of traditional products such as Baked Lay's, but also better-for-you-focused products such as Naked Juice, Gatorade, and many Quaker products.
But it goes further than that. As my fellow Fool Alyce Lomax recently highlighted, PepsiCo was given the Stockholm Industry Water Award for its reduction in water used in its production. It's because of actions like these that PepsiCo finds itself among Fortune's Most Admired Companies and Ethisphere's list of World's Most Ethical Companies.
Is this unrelated to investment value? I think not. I believe that PepsiCo's focus on more nutritional products is very forward-thinking. Many consumers are getting more mindful about how they're fueling themselves, and as they switch from sugary sodas and fatty chips, it's good business for PepsiCo to be there with products to replace them. Meanwhile, with companies such as Wal-Mart and Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK ) getting dragged through the mud thanks to questionable actions at the top of the organizational chart, PepsiCo's commitment to a more ethical approach to business reduces the potential for it to go through a similar drubbing.
Bonus reason and three more global giants
If you couldn't tell, I'm a fan of PepsiCo. I have that view backed by not only a thumbs up in my Motley Fool CAPS portfolio, but also real money in my personal portfolio.
In fact, I like PepsiCo so much that I'll give you one more reason to be bullish on its stock. It's one delicious concept in three words: Doritos Locos Taco. Yes, that's right. The product of the combined efforts of PepsiCo and Yum! Brands' Taco Bell, the crazy concoction sold 100 million in just 10 weeks. That makes it Taco Bell's most successful product launch ever, and it tells me that PepsiCo still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
Still not quite sold on PepsiCo? Then I'll leave you with this: Like PepsiCo, Yum! Brands has been making major waves overseas. In fact, my fellow Fools think that it, along with two other companies, are "set to dominate the world." To find out more, down load a free copy of The Motley Fool's recent special report.