Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG ) has become one of the top picks for income investors thanks to its consistent dividend payments for more than a century. The company has been paying uninterrupted dividends since 1890, and today offers investors a decent dividend yield at 3%. Its global peers, including Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE: CL ) and Kimberly Clark (NYSE: KMB ) , are also good income stocks, with their dividend yields at 2.1% and 3.1%, respectively.
Procter & Gamble's four areas of focus to drive future value
Most people are familiar with Procter & Gamble through many of its popular consumer-goods products such as Downy, Bounty, Pampers, Oral-B, Olay, and Gillette. The biggest revenue and earnings contributor was the fabric-care and home-care segment, accounting for 32% of total net sales and 27% of total earnings in fiscal 2013. Pampers is Procter & Gamble's largest brand, producing annual net sales of more than $10 billion. In the baby-care segment, the company provides diapers, baby wipes, and pants, representing as much as 35% of the global market share.
Pampers is competing vigorously with another huge diaper brand, Huggies, which belongs to Kimberly Clark. However, Pampers still has a much larger presence, as Huggies has only 22% global market share.
In the future, there are four areas that Procter & Gamble will focus on to improve its operating performance. The first is to create more value for both consumers and shareholders, with the operating TSR (total shareholder return) as a primary business performance measure. In order to enhance TSR, the company will focus on its core business, the most profitable categories, and the most profitable markets. Second the company will increase productivity and innovation. Procter & Gamble needs innovation for all of its business categories and productivity in the slower-growth regions with higher volatility. With an expected $1.4 billion in savings, the company's manufacturing and productivity were estimated to increase by 6% this year.
The third area of focus is to have better execution to win over consumers, which means airing only high return-on-investment advertising. Last but not least, Procter & Gamble will increase research and development spending to encourage innovation and strengthen go-to-market capability.
Procter & Gamble will improve its profitability significantly with its ongoing five-year, $10 billion cost-savings program, covering all elements of costs, including cost of goods sold, non-manufacturing overhead, and marketing spending. Over the five-year span, the pre-tax restructuring costs were estimated to be more than $3.5 billion, while the costs were expected to deliver more than $2 billion in pre-tax annual savings.
Colgate-Palmolive and Kimberly Clark also have cost savings initiatives
Colgate-Palmolive has also implemented its cost-saving initiatives with a global growth and efficiency program. This four-year plan was expected to help the company become stronger in execution, simplify and standardize workflow, reduce structural costs, and enhance the company's leading market positions in many markets globally. With a total investment of around $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion, Colgate-Palmolive estimated it will have around $365 million to $435 million in annual savings by the fourth year.
Kimberly Clark also launched the FORCE, or focused on reducing costs everywhere, a global efficiency and cost-savings program aimed at keeping costs as low as possible and delivering the company's future growth. In the past two years, it has managed to achieve more than $250 million in savings, and the company expects a healthy level of FORCE savings in 2014 and beyond.
My Foolish take
Procter & Gamble, with its increased focus on four areas to drive total shareholder return and the huge, ongoing $10 billion cost-savings initiatives, could significantly improve the company's margin and profitability in the long run. A current decent 3% dividend yield and fantastic long-term dividend payment could really attract income investors to keep holding Procter & Gamble's stock over the long term.