There's something about having one of your products immortalized in a song that illustrates just how well your brand connects with its consumers and how endearing it can be. For example, Coca-Cola's (NYSE:KO) famous "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" campaign is largely regarded as one of the most powerful and popular advertisements in television history. Yet that song was created specifically as a commercial. If an ad jingle can connect so well with the public, what does that say about the lyrics from Jimmy Buffett's Cheeseburger in Paradise?:

"I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57and french fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well, good God almighty, which way do I steer?"

A worldwide leader
Those immortal lyrics illustrate just how ingrained Motley Fool Income Investor selection H.J. Heinz (NYSE:HNZ) is in American culture. Heinz ketchup controls some 60% of the U.S. retail market and a whopping 80% of the U.S. food service market. Other brands like ConAgra's (NYSE:CAG) Hunt's line just don't have the brand-name power, nor do they generate the automatic purchase impulse of this leading brand. Not only is Heinz the ketchup leader both at home and abroad, but also the leading baby-food producer in Australia (74% retail share) and the largest bean baker in the U.K. (67% retail share). In fact, some 58% of the company's revenues come from sources outside North America.

With multiple leading product lines in numerous countries around the world, Heinz is amazingly well-positioned. In fact, investors searching to diversify their holdings globally could do far worse than this American icon and its strong international presence.

Show me the money
Heinz doesn't just have a dominant market position; it understands its responsibility to investors as well. As shareholders, we become partial owners in the businesses we buy. As they grow and prosper, we should expect to be rewarded for the financial risks we take by purchasing them in the first place. The first question I ask about any company that I'm considering buying is, "How well does this business treat its owners?" In Heinz' case, the answer is "Very well, indeed."

Like clockwork every quarter, this global food giant pays out a dividend that puts much of corporate America to shame. With the distribution currently weighing in at $1.20 a year, Heinz pays out about 3.47% of its recent market capitalization to its owners on a yearly basis.

Better yet, as is appropriate for a steady performer with such consistent brands, that payout has been steadily rising for decades, with only one exception. After having spun off several of its brands to Del Monte (NYSE:DLM) in 2002, Heinz prudently reduced its payout in 2003 to acknowledge the fact that its business had shrunk significantly. Yet true to its commitment to its owners, Heinz' executives shortly thereafter resumed their annual ritual of paying owners ever-increasing amounts of money in compensation for their financial risks. There's no reward more tangible for investors than cold, hard cash, and any company with such a solid history of paying its owners well deserves a closer look.

Squeaky-clean image
Plus, unlike fellow food giant Kraft (NYSE:KFT), Heinz doesn't carry the baggage associated with its compatriot's long-standing corporate relationships with tobacco giants Altria (NYSE:MO) and Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI). Additionally, in stark contrast to its rival's reliance on not-so-healthy brands like Chips Ahoy and Cheez Whiz, Heinz proudly proclaims that its vision is "to be the world's premier food company, offering nutritious, superior-tasting foods to people everywhere." Granted, ketchup is hardly the prototypical model of health food, but compared to cookies and processed cheese, it's certainly a step in the right direction.

The Foolish bottom line
With its dominant global presence and leading market share in multiple categories worldwide, Heinz is certainly a force in the food business. Add a dash of shareholder-friendly dividend policies and a pinch of squeaky-clean corporate image, and the overall recipe results in a company that's worth a look for investors seeking a business with legitimate potential to be a steady long-term performer.

Do you like the idea of buying solid, globally prominent companies with a history of paying their owners well? If so, Income Investor has just what you're looking for. Click here to start your membership. In addition to the Fool's ironclad money-back guarantee, with your subscription, you'll also receive a copy of The Motley Fool's Stocks 2006: The Investor's Guide to the Year Ahead, a $69 value, absolutely free.

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At the time of publication, Fool contributor Chuck Saletta had no ownership position in any of the companies mentioned in the article. In the interests of absolutely full disclosure , however, Chuck feels obligated to admit that he did have a bottle of Heinz ketchup in the fridge, along with a couple slices of Kraft cheese and a few cans of Coke, at the time of publication. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick.