3 Things to Love About Diageo

LONDON -- There are things to love and loathe about most companies. Today, I'm going to tell you about three things to love about FTSE 100 drinks giant Diageo  (LSE: DGE  ) (NYSE: DEO  ) . I'll also be asking whether these positive factors make Diageo a good investment today.

Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh has been CEO of Diageo since 2000, making him one of the longest-serving FTSE 100 chief executives. He was previously the group's chief operating officer.

Continuity of leadership is a great foundation for long-term business success. Walsh has built Diageo into the world's leading premium-drinks business with an outstanding collection of brands. Shareholders can raise a glass of Johnnie Walker (or Smirnoff, or Guinness, or...well, you get what I'm saying) to Walsh's achievements.

Profits
Diageo has increased its profits relentlessly through prosperity and austerity alike. The company has great international reach and is benefiting from the popularity of top Western drinks brands among the growing middle class in emerging markets.

The table below of earnings before interest and tax (in billions of pounds) for the last eight years, as well as the forecasts for the next two years, show just what a steady performer Diageo is.

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2.02

2.13

2.18

2.37

2.60

2.68

2.91

3.27

3.49

3.76

Source: Morningstar.

Dividend reinvestment
Many FTSE 100 companies run schemes that enable shareholders to automatically reinvest their dividends -- dividend reinvestment plans, a.k.a. DRIPs. Reinvesting dividends is a great way to build long-term wealth.

For all company DRIPs, you'll pay the usual stamp duty at the prevailing 0.5%, plus a fee comprising stockbroking commission and administration. The fee varies from company to company, and I think Diageo's is the lowest I've come across: 0.5% is fairly typical, but Diageo charges just 0.15%.

A good investment?
There really is a lot to love about Diageo: Continuity of management, steady profit growth, and cheap dividend reinvestment are only three of the attractions. The trouble is that the market's all too aware of Diageo's qualities, and investors have been pouring money into the shares like nobody's business in these uncertain economic times. The shares have risen by 30% in the past year alone, compared with the FTSE 100's rise of 8%.

At 1,850 pence, you're paying a heady 18 times Diageo's forecast earnings for the year ending June 2013 and getting a well-below-market-average dividend yield of 2.5%. There's a lot of optimism in the rating that the company will suffer no slip-ups or setbacks -- which, if they do happen, could provide patient investors with an opportunity to buy on a cheaper rating.

One investor with a proven track record of buying great blue-chip shares at the right price is ace City fund manager Neil Woodford. Woodford's 20 billion pound funds have thrashed the FTSE 100 over the past five, 10, and 15 years. You can now learn all about this master investor's methods -- and eight of his current favorite blue chips -- in a free and exclusive Motley Fool report. This report is available to private investors for a limited time only, but you can download it right now -- simply click here.

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