Global financial markets are going through massive volatility after voters in the U.K. decided to leave the European Union. That's no reason to panic, though. History shows that being patient and having a long-term horizon is the right approach to handling these kinds of scenarios. Even better, buying in times of generalized panic tends to be a winning strategy over time.
It's hard to tell how the situation in Europe will evolve in the coming months, or what kind of impact it could have on the global economy. However, one thing looks far more certain: Companies such as Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB), and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) are solid enough to continue thriving under all kinds of scenarios and rewarding investors with growing dividends over the years ahead.
Colgate-Palmolive is known for its market leadership in the global oral care industry. The company owns 43.7% of the international market in toothpaste, 33.5% in manual toothbrushes, and 43% of the global market in mouthwashes. In addition, Colgate-Palmolive has a sizable presence in products such as shampoo, deodorant, and detergents, while nearly 15% of its revenue comes from the pet nutrition business.
The company does business in over 220 countries, and more than half of revenue is currently coming from emerging markets. This makes the business vulnerable to the impact of global currency fluctuations in the short term, but it also offers exceptional opportunities for growth due to a rising middle class in emerging markets over the years and decades ahead.
Brand differentiation is a crucial source of competitive advantage in the business, and Colgate-Palmolive has a well-established relationship with oral care professionals around the world. According to management, 47% of all dentists worldwide recommend Colgate to their patients, driving brand recognition and sustained sales growth for the company, especially in specialized high-margin products.
Colgate-Palmolive has an extraordinary track record of dividend payments: The company has paid uninterrupted dividends in every year since 1895, accumulating 122 consecutive years of consistent dividend distributions. Even better, Colgate-Palmolive has increased dividends in the last 54 years in a row, and the stock is paying a dividend yield of 2.2% at current prices.
Kimberly-Clark is a market leader in products such as diapers, bathroom tissues, feminine care items, and paper towels, where the company owns globally renowned brands such as Huggies, Pull-Ups, and Kleenex, and several others. The company does business in 175 countries, and over half of total revenue comes from overseas.
Kimberly-Clark sells mostly basic-needs products as opposed to discretionary items. This makes the business especially resilient through economic ups and downs. I honestly have no idea how the Brexit vote will affect global financial markets in the coming months, but chances are that people around the world will continue buying diapers and bathroom tissues, no matter what happens with the economic and political map in Europe.
Management is planning to reduce costs by $350 million this year, and this is driving improving profitability for investors. Adjusted gross profit margin increased by 100 basis points in the first quarter of 2016, while adjusted operating margin came in at 18.1% of revenue, an increase of 90 basis points year over year.
Kimberly-Clark has an impeccable trajectory of dividend payments. The company has paid uninterrupted dividends over the last 88 consecutive years, and it has increased payments for 44 years in a row. After announcing a dividend hike of 4.5% in February, Kimberly-Clark stock is paying a dividend yield of 2.8%
Procter & Gamble
When it comes to competitive strength in the consumer staples business, Procter & Gamble comes second to none. The company owns 21 brands making over $1 billion each in global annual sales, in addition to 11 other brands generating between $500 million and $1 billion in revenue. Tremendous brand power, massive scale, and abundant financial resources to invest in marketing and advertising make Procter & Gamble one of a kind in the industry.
The company is restructuring its portfolio of brands, selling its less-promising names in order to better focus on categories with superior potential for growth and profitability. Management has also embarked on an ambitious productivity program aimed at reducing annual costs by $10 billion over five years. The original plan was launched in 2012, and the company is ahead of schedule in its cost-saving efforts, so management is planning to launch new cost-saving programs in the near term.
Sometimes less is more, and a leaner Procter & Gamble with a more selective portfolio of brands could mean a more profitable and dynamic business. Needless to say, the more money the company saves via productivity enhancements, the more money it can distribute to investors via dividends.
Procter & Gamble has paid uninterrupted dividends since its incorporation in 1890, accumulating 126 years of recurrent dividend distributions under its belt. The company has one of the longest track records of dividend growth around, since it has increased dividends over 60 consecutive years. Dividend distributions over the last decade amount to a gargantuan $60 billion, and the stock is currently paying a dividend yield of 3.2%.