Diversity in operations can be boring sometimes. Fortunately, it's the good kind of boring, where you can predict strong income and cash flows no matter what the circumstances. In the case of Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO), it means that slow golf-club sales just make liquor and home improvement look better again, as the combined output from all three business lines handily beat estimates for the third report in a row.

Compared to the second quarter of 2005, the wine and spirits division leapfrogged golfing in revenues, thanks to the acquisition of several Allied Domecq brands of hard liquor and wine last summer. (Income Investor selection Diageo (NYSE:DEO) picked up the rest of Allied Domecq.) Home and hardware remains the workhorse of the bunch, though the beverage department is closing in on the operating-profit side of things.

I find it especially interesting that combined operating margins expanded by 0.2 percentage points, even though two out of three business units saw significantly worse operational efficiency than last year. Hardware pulled that wagon to the barn this time, thanks to a modest margin improvement; its sales outstripped the other two divisions combined.

It's curious to find hardware doing so well -- and in a very organic manner at that -- given concerns about slowdowns in the housing market. It looks like Fortune has figured out how to push its products to remodelers and do-it-yourselfers, a good market to cultivate if the housing bubble pops entirely.

While it may be frustrating at times to compete with large specialists like Diageo and Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF-B) on the beverage side, Mohawk (NYSE:MHK) and Builders FirstSource (NASDAQ:BLRD) in home-improvement wares, and Callaway (NYSE:ELY) in golfing products, the balanced approach does come in handy for operational smoothness and stability. Short of the whole economy dropping into a tailspin, I'd be surprised to find Fortune ever posting nosediving numbers. With hundreds of millions in free cash flow, the 2% dividend yield looks both tempting and sustainable. But thrill-seekers should bear in mind that Fortune will never be an exciting growth stock, either.

Further Foolish reading:

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolishdisclosureenjoys a nice round of golf and a cool mint julep after a long day of home repairs.