As long term investors, we often like the idea of buying a great sustainable business with a huge moat and holding it forever. Thus, we should look for a business with a leading position globally, an unbeatable brand, and strong customer loyalty. Here are three consumer stocks for investors to buy and hold forever.
A global leader in soft drinks
Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) owns more than 40% of the total global soft drink market. Its core business is simple: it sells concentrates and syrups to bottling partners. Then the company's bottling partners sell the finished products to customers that include convenience stores and grocery stores. What is invaluable about Coca-Cola is its brand and its strong distribution system. Its products are sold in more than 200 countries, which is more countries than there are in the United Nations.
In the third quarter, the Coca-Cola brand stayed quite strong, delivering 2% global volume growth to reach 181 billion servings worldwide. With around 1 billion new members in the middle class by 2020, Coca-Cola believes that it can double its system revenue, on a 2010 base, in the next seven years. Despite a valuation of 20 times earnings, Coca-Cola still gives investors a decent dividend yield of 2.8% at its current price.
A chocolate king
Hershey (NYSE:HSY) is another consumer goods stock for long-term investors. I like Hershey because of its dominant position in the chocolate market. It possesses around 43.30% of the total U.S. chocolate market, while the second position belongs to Mars/Wrigley with a 30.70% market share (as of 2012). The company does not rely on past success--it keeps innovating and launching new products in the market. For instance, it is launching a new soft caramel creme line named Lancaster. Interestingly, this is Hershey's first new brand in the U.S. in the past 30 years. The company stated that
"The introduction of the Lancaster brand marks a significant milestone for the Hershey Co., as it's the first time the company has launched a new brand that is not a brand extension or acquisition in the last 30 years."
In the long run, Hershey expects that its net sales will experience long-term growth of 5%-7%, including the currency exchange impact. Moreover, Hershey will continue to increase its presence in the international market, with estimated revenue of $1 billion next year in the overseas market. By 2017, Hershey's total revenue could reach as high as $10 billion. Hershey seems a bit pricey at 30.3 times its trailing P/E. However, investors still get a good dividend yield of 1.80% at its current price.
Dominating oral care
Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) is the global leader in oral care with around 45.4% share in the toothpaste and 33.3% share in the manual toothbrush market. Colgate-Palmolive also operates in the personal care and home care businesses. However, its oral care is its core segment, contributing around 44% of its total revenue in 2012. The company is continually looking for different ways to innovate its products at a global scale, as it sees that innovation is the key to gain market share and deliver growth.
In China, it introduced Colgate 3600 Enamel Protects toothpaste and accompanied it with the launch of the Colgate 3600 Interdental toothbrush. In Russia, Colgate Altai herb toothpaste and mouthwash has also recently been launched to protect people's gums with herbs, well-known natural ingredients in China. In South Africa, where people believe that salt has antibacterial protection benefits, the company introduced a Colgate Active Salt toothpaste.
Moreover, Colgate-Palmolive will continue to drive its profitability higher through its Global Growth and Efficiency Program. By expanding its commercial hubs, optimizing its global supply chain, and streamlining its global functions, the company could realize savings of around $365-$435 million annually from this program from 2016 onward. Colgate-Palmolive is not too cheap, trading at 24.7 times its trailing P/E. However, it is not so crazy to buy into Colgate-Palmolive for a sustainable and growing dividend, which yields 2.1% now.
My Foolish take
With market leading positions, great consumer loyalty, and strong distribution channels, all of these large consumer goods companies could keep delivering solid returns to their shareholders in the long run. Moreover, all three stocks pay decent dividend yields to investors. Coca-Cola, Hershey, and Colgate-Palmolive should really be in investors' long-term portfolios.