Looking for stocks you can buy and hold with confidence for years to come? These consumer-goods companies are American classics with worldwide brand recognition. I like the digital growth of the first, and the second is a strong dividend stock. Despite their strength, both have declined year to date, offering long-term investors an entry point.
Nike (NKE -3.41%) isn't having an easy time right now, with athletic events off the calendar and shops temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. That's why it's time to get in on this forever stock now, with shares down 11% since the start of the year.
Why am I so optimistic about Nike? The Jordan brand, digital growth, and its position in the world of professional sports will boost revenue once the effect of the coronavirus crisis has passed.
When Nike partnered with emerging basketball legend Michael Jordan in the mid-'80s to develop the Air Jordan shoe line, it leaped into the category of athletic gear companies with staying power -- just "like Mike," to reference the old Gatorade commercial. Sixteen years after Jordan's retirement, Nike's Jordan brand posted its first billion-dollar quarter last year, and a 10-part series about Jordan's last season with the Chicago Bulls has became one of the most-watched documentaries worldwide. That bodes well for the Jordan brand's future growth.
Even with the coronavirus outbreak temporarily shuttering stores in China, Nike's digital sales there rose more than 30% in the quarter ending Feb. 29. Worldwide, digital sales climbed 36% year over year. Nike launched its direct-to-consumer effort more than two years ago, and it isn't only bearing fruit -- it's helped prop up revenue during the current health crisis.
Though athletic events are on hold now, once they pick up, Nike will be back in the spotlight. In 2018, the company signed a 10-year extension to its deal to provide the National Football League's uniforms. That translates into revenue as Nike sells official jerseys and other gear to fans.
Coca-Cola (KO -0.72%), like Nike, has dropped during the coronavirus outbreak, and the stock is now down 17% year to date. Consumers might be stocking their pantries with Coca-Cola products, but they aren't buying the beverages in away-from-home settings like restaurants. Since Coca-Cola makes about half of its revenue through away-from-home channels, the company said declines there will have a "significant impact" on second-quarter results.
Why am I so optimistic about Coca-Cola? First, Coca-Cola is a member of the elite when it comes to dividends. As a Dividend King, it is a member of the S&P 500 that has lifted its dividend for at least 50 consecutive years. Earlier this year, Coca-Cola increased its quarterly dividend 2.5% to $0.41 per common share for its 58th straight annual increase. Coca-Cola's 12-month free cash flow, at $8.2 billion, is close to its highest ever. That suggests we can be optimistic about its ability to continue payouts.
Coca-Cola's presence worldwide and market share are another reason to add the company to your portfolio as a long-term investment. The company sells more than 500 brands in more than 200 countries and territories. Coca-Cola held more than 43% of the U.S. non-alcoholic beverages market in 2018, according to Statista. Though Coca-Cola is known for its soft drink by the same name, it's expanded into products with lower sugar or more nutritional benefits to suit consumers' changing tastes. Last year, the company launched more than 1,000 new products -- and more than 400 of them were low sugar or sugar-free.
Considering the coronavirus pandemic, we shouldn't expect strength in Coca-Cola earnings in the coming months. Coca-Cola, in its most recent earnings report, said it is optimistic about improvement toward the end of the year. And for the long-term investor, that sounds just fine.