If you think consumer food and beverage companies like Cadbury Schweppes PLC (NYSE:CSG) are boring, you probably haven't tried to make sense of the earnings reports. Selling stuff like Halls lozenges, Cadbury chocolate, Dr. Pepper, Schweppes, and Trident gum all over the globe makes a pretty complicated biz for the armchair investor to stay on top of, but it's one that's worth the time to figure out.

That's because solid and steady businesses like Wrigley (NYSE:WWY), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP), and Tootsie Roll (NYSE:TR) provided some of the best returns in the market over the past half century. Are we getting that kind of opportunity with the continuing restructuring at Cadbury? I'd say, "not quite."

The Cadbury headlines today are going to trumpet the tripled profit over last year's prior six months (that's how they report these numbers from Jolly Old England), but keep in mind that a giant portion of that comes from sales of beverage units that generated a one-time gain of 541 million pounds. Currency-related gains also juiced results, but the bottom line is this. In constant currency growth, revenues were up 4%, operating profit up 11%, and profit before taxes and discontinued operations rose 22% to 398 million pounds.

That's a decent showing, enabled by a 10 basis point increase in operating margins and despite a tough market for ingredients like sweeteners and oil. Double-digit beverage sale increases for some brands in the U.S. and Mexico also helped out, as did the cost-cutting programs management describes throughout the release.

There's still the matter of a salmonella problem in the U.K. and Ireland Cadbury brands, which necessitated a recall and which will require time and money to remedy. U.K. chocolate sales were down some 5 million pounds. But if the firm works things out as planned, the 20 million pounds in costs should be a fairly small bite from the full year's profits.

My only problem with this business is the price. I like what's going on, but I'll be waiting for a better buy-in. No matter how I slice, dice, and predict growth of the admittedly healthy cash flow, I need to apply some better-than-reality growth rates to make the shares look fairly valued, let alone work in a margin of safety. There are premium brands here, to be sure, but history shows us that you make your best money investing in them when Mr. Market gives you the sale.

In the international beverage biz, I think there are better deals out there, FEMSA (NYSE:FMX) being one. In confections, I'd take a look at competitor and Motley Fool Income Investor pick Wrigley.

FEMSA is my recommendation in our recent blue-chip report, Monster Stocks. Click here to get a detailed look at why I think it's currently priced to power your portfolio for years.

Coca-Cola is an Inside Value pick.

Seth Jayson loves a strong business, but he tries never to buy retail. At the time of publication, he had shares of FEMSA but no positions in any other company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.