Finding businesses that can stand up to the test of time is difficult. That's why smart investors look for companies that have an "economic moat" that prevent them from being disrupted by competitors. Companies that have a moat stand a much better chance at generating for long periods of time and turning into great investments.
So what companies have a strong moat that's likely to last for years on end? Read on to see why I think McCormick (MKC -8.46%), Starbucks (SBUX -1.81%), and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP -2.35%) all have enduring moats that makes them great investment candidates.
Cornering the spice market
The odds are good that you're a regular consumer of McCormick's products, even if you don't know it yet. This company has been consolidating the global spice market for more than a century, and it currently sells its products in more than 150 countries around the world.
What impresses me most about McCormick is that it has a stranglehold on both the consumer and industrial markets. McCormick sells both branded and generic spices at retail stores, which allows it to maintain its market share even if consumers trade down to lower-priced offerings. The company also sells its products in bulk to food makers and restaurants around the world. In fact, McCormick currently counts all of the top 10 foodservice restaurant chains as customers and nine of the top 10 food and beverage companies. How's that for a dominant market position?
With such a strong position in a recession-resistant industry, perhaps it's no surprise to learn that McCormick has been a wonderful investment. The company has paid an uninterrupted dividend for more than 90 years, which is a claim few other businesses can make. You can't do that without a wide moat, which is why McCormick is a terrific stock for buy-and-hold investors.
Taking the empire to new heights
Millions of consumers around the world visit Starbucks every day to provide them with their daily caffeine fix. The company's brand has become synonyms with high-quality coffee and tea, which has cemented the company's offerings as the go-to place for a daily dose of affordable luxury.
Yet as big as Starbucks has already become, this company has plans to become a whole lot bigger. Starbucks currently operates more than 25,000 stores around the globe, but the company plans on adding another 12,000 locations in just the next five years. Importantly, included in these expansion plans are the rollout of its new Reserve brand, which offering consumers an ultra-premium coffee experience.
Starbucks is also looking for ways to reach consumers who don't even visit its stores. The company's consumer packaged goods segment sells coffee, tea, ready-to-drink products, and even premium ice cream at thousands of retail locations around the world. The company plans to continue to build out this business to meet customers' needs at home, too.
If all of that wasn't enough, Starbucks is also seeing a tremendous rise in the use of its mobile app -- so much so, in fact, that the app is creating congestion at the company's pick up counters.
All told, management believes that these initiatives will drive long-term earnings growth of at least 15% for the foreseeable future. That's an impressive growth rate for such a mature business, which makes Starbucks the epitome of a great buy-and-hold investment.
As dependable as it gets
Toll roads. Cellular towers. Pipelines. Shipping ports. What do infrastructure assets like these have in common? They are all one-of-a-kind assets that most people never think about but that are essential to modern-day living.
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners is a publicly traded limited partnership that owns a broad portfolio of infrastructure assets like these around the world. Brookfield's management team has a knack for identifying unique assets like these that reliably crank out profits and are impossible to reproduce. The company then passes along its growing stream of profits back to investors in the form of an ever-rising dividend.
Between its current portfolio and pipeline of upcoming projects, management believes that Brookfield will allow the company to raise its dividend by 5% to 9% for the foreseeable future. That's an attractive growth rate for such a stable business, especially when you consider the company's current yield is a juicy 4.5%.
While there are potential tax ramifications that need to be considered before buying shares, I think this is a great stock for income-focused investors to consider buying today.