Investing for income via the stock market can give investors a good mix of current income and growth in capital. Three companies that offer current income along with stability and growth are McCormick & Company (NYSE:MKC), Flowers Foods (NYSE:FLO), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO). Companies I consider to be good dividend picks have several unique qualities, three important ones being: high current income, stable operations and cash flow, and strong marketplace positioning.
McCormick & Company
McCormick & Company is a world leader in the spice industry. The company currently offers a dividend to investors yielding about 2%, and it is backed with plenty of financial strength and cash flow.
Though McCormick's sales fell in the America's region as reported in the second quarter, international sales made up for the loss, and total revenues were up 3%. Over the last 10 years, revenues and earnings per share grew by an average of 5% and 9.3%, respectively. The company is engaged in a companywide cost-cutting initiative as well as a regular share buyback program; both will help earnings per share to continue to rise at a strong pace. McCormick also has very strong cash flow. Over the last five years, cash provided from operations has been stable, and free cash flow to equity holders has covered the dividend by 1.23, on average.
Being the largest manufacturer and distributor of spices in the world will help these results continue. Spices are a staple product in any kitchen and sell at a relatively low price point, meaning consumers buy from McCormick in good times and bad, which ensures steady growth.
Like McCormick, Flowers Foods has a similar stronghold on its market segment. Flowers produces bread and related products under brand names such as Nature's Own, Sunbeam, and Merita, among others. While the company currently has access to only 79% of the United States population, it estimates it owns 18.2% of the entire United States market in the bread, buns, and rolls category.
Flowers offers its shareholders an attractive dividend currently yielding 2.3%. Again, this is a dividend backed with strong cash flow. This company's free cash flow to equity has covered its dividend payments 1.18 times, on average over the last five years.
Like McCormick, Flowers sells a product that is a staple in kitchens, bread, and sells during good times and bad. This has helped the company grow revenues and earnings per share by 9.2% and 17.4%, on average over the last ten years. Along with those stellar results, the company has increased their dividend by an average of over 16% per year over the last 10 years.
As Flowers grows its brands and completes smart acquisitions, it should be able to grow its reach geographically and grow its market share even larger, helping margins and bottom-line growth.
Coca-Cola, one of the most well-known brands in the world, sends its investors a dividend check currently worth 2.9% of the share value, and again is backed by strong cash flow.
Like McCormick and Flowers, Coca-Cola's free cash flow to equity easily covers their dividend, in Coca-Cola's case it has covered the dividend on average 1.83 times over the last five years. Revenues and earnings per share have grown by 7.9% and 6.6% per year, respectively, over the last 10 years. Revenues have been hurt recently by declining soda sales worldwide, but the company's margins are solid, and it should be able to weather the storm.
Coca-Cola is diversified outside of soda; it also sells bottled water, fruit juice, energy drinks, and more under a wide variety of brands. Growth in these segments should help support the revenue declines of soda. Coca-Cola is also a very well-run company, which will help support its bottom line in the face of struggling revenues. Over the last 10 years, management has reinvested earnings, measured by return on equity, at an average rate of 30.5%.
McCormick & Company, Flowers Foods, and Coca-Cola are three well-run companies that offer shareholders a strong mix of growth, stability, and income. Owning these three companies will help an income investor's portfolio perform well for many years into the future.