Snacks first, sodas second
PepsiCo has 19 brands that each produce more than $1 billion in annual sales. While Americans typically associate the company with its namesake cola, investors would be better served by focusing on Pepsi's performance in the market for salty snacks.
Americans love snacks: We consume more than 4.3 billion pounds of the stuff each year. Just imagine what would happen if Asia and India started consuming snacks at these rates. Pepsi is well positioned as the dominant global snack purveyor in almost every major market on Earth. It has the brands and the distribution network to see this through because 63% of Pepsi's revenue comes from food, with the remaining 37% from beverages. While Kraft
Measured by sales, PepsiCo offers the country's No. 1-ranked potato chip (Lay's), flavored tortilla chip (Doritos), unflavored tortilla chip (Tostitos), and cheese puff (Cheetos).
Why Pepsi for the long haul? Management
Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi follows in the footsteps of greatness. Nooyi had big shoes to fill from past Pepsi chiefs such as D. Wayne Calloway and Roger Enrico, but she appears to be up to the task. She's focused on growing the international component of Pepsi's business: The emerging middle classes of both Asia and India are big targets.
Furthermore, PepsiCo beat Coke to the punch when it came to bringing bottlers in-house. Having control of the bottlers, especially in mature markets like North America, allows Pepsi to quickly test and bring to market new products.
Nooyi hasn't ignored claims about how healthy the company's products are, either. She recognizes how consumers are becoming more educated and informed about how their diet affects their health. Pepsi's brands are embracing this shift toward healthier food (Tropicana's lower-sugar juices, Baked Lay's, and Quaker Oats, etc.).
Last but certainly not least, Pepsi generates stunning returns on equity -- north of 30% -- and returns on capital often greater than 20%.
PepsiCo is a great investment for retirement-minded investors. Typically, as you reach retirement, advisors recommend shifting more of your assets into fixed-income investments, but I think Pepsi's stock provides a better alternative for investors who don't need to touch that money for at least five years.
Pepsi's current 3% yield is greater than the average AAA-rated corporate bond of 2.08%, plus you get the future growth in earnings, along with likely increases in the dividend. Assuming conservative growth in earnings, on top of some dividend increases and stock buybacks, investors are looking at returns that will more than compensate for the short-term volatility of holding this stock instead of a basket of corporate bonds yielding 2% -- or U.S. Treasuries yielding even less.