Consumer stocks are now as risky as they've ever been. Unemployment’s historically high, consumers are spooked, and subpar earnings abound, as companies pay the price for lost competitive advantage or fiscal irresponsibility. But tough times can offer investors the best chance to buy stocks

Even if stock prices are low, investors still need to be careful. Many companies simply won't survive the recession in their current form. However, thinning the herd of weaker competitors should lead to big winners in the consumer space when the economy recovers.  I've already highlighted two reasons to sell consumer-staples company Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB).  Here, I've listed two reasons to pull the "buy" trigger on this personal- and health-care company.

1. Showing shareholders the money
Manufacturer and marketer of well-known brands such as Kleenex, Kotex, Huggies, and Depends, Kimberly-Clark is one of the larger and better-known consumer-staples companies. Among other qualities, this sector often attracts investors with its substantial dividend yields, made possible by relatively stable cash flows, and in the case of more mature companies, modest capital expenditure requirements.

And compared to peers that compete in similar categories, Kimberly-Clark is clearly a dividend overachiever. Just take a gander at the table below.


Market Cap

Dividend Yield

Payout Ratio


$24.6 B



Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG)

$167.1 B



Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL)

$39.3 B



Church & Dwight (NYSE:CHD)

$4.0 B



Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)

$167.9 B



Energizer (NYSE:ENR)

$4.6 B



Data from CapitalIQ on Oct. 15.

Sure, that 4.1% dividend yield is appealing on an absolute basis, but theoretically, it also helps put a higher floor beneath the stock, should the market sell off. In other words, compared to competitors' shares, as the stock price falls, that yield will reach higher levels much more quickly, potentially drawing in buyers and supporting the price. Granted, the payout ratio exceeds that of peers, but it's hardly poised to be the next dividend blowup. All said, Kimberly-Clark's dividend presents a compelling, if succinct, reason to scoop up shares.

2. Head over heels for BRICIT
No, it's not a new super-absorbent paper product. In company lingo, BRICIT stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, and Turkey. Together, that geography has been driving the company's growth. Representing a hefty 30% of 2008 net sales, the segment has been a strategic priority.

And for good reason: Five-year organic sales in those nations through 2008 grew at an annualized 11%, more than double the companywide 4.9%. A variety of new products and innovations no doubt helped segment performance hold up in the second quarter, with volume down slightly, but organic sales up 12% on stronger pricing.

With U.S. consumers no bastion of strength, and private-label goods posing an increasingly larger threat here, Kimberly-Clark's focus on the more earnest, more stable emerging-market consumer is arguably a flashing buy signal.

What do you think?
We've made our Foolish case on Kimberly-Clark -- now it's your turn. Is Kimberly-Clark a sound buy? Or do you have your doubts? Share your comments below.

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Kimberly-Clark, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. Energizer Holdings is a Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Mike Pienciak owns shares of Church & Dwight, but he holds no beneficial interest in any other company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.