Dividend stocks are highly publicized and pushed on every financial media platform. Many choices claim to offer high yield, consistent return, and most importantly for Fools, quality long-term investment status. This sounds fantastic to many readers, but being a young investor I desire growth and expansion along with consistent payouts and stability. An empty toothpaste tube and a bit of research revealed excellent choices within the consumer goods sector, starting with the relatively small yet 150-year-old company that is Church and Dwight Co. (NYSE:CHD).
Putting the arm and hammer down
Church and Dwight is classified as an "Aggressive Growth" stock on Morningstar, yet the company issued its 451st regular quarterly dividend this past Halloween. This consistent payout sits at a 1.7% yield and combines with a year-to-date share price increase of over 22%. Staying in line with company chairman James Cragie's mission, total shareholder return, or TSR, is poised to hit 24% for 2013. Church and Dwight may be aggressive about returning money to its investors, but its growth is sustainable and it is a role model for consumer goods companies.
I am a big fan of Arm and Hammer and recognize the brand for baking soda, toothpaste, and detergents, but I have to consider the company's "two star" rating on Morningstar. The latter brand excluded, many of Church and Dwight's brands belonged to companies such as the now dissolved Carter-Wallace and merger victim Orange Glo International. Of the thirty brands listed on the company website, fifteen of them were acquired from current competitors or rivals of the past, including "power brands" Trojan and Spinbrush. However, the company's success allows for comfortable investment in research and development. With the right management push, further innovation can ensure continued superb returns for the mighty hammer.
Even with its widely recognizable brands, Church and Dwight would have to grow twelve times its size in terms of market cap to stand half as tall as the unquestioned household leader, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG). With nearly $223 billion in market cap and a dividend approaching 3%, the "Proud Sponsor of Moms" is no joke. The company combines unique brand innovation with hugely successful acquisitions to remain on top.
None of these companies are 100% original, but Procter & Gamble has created powerful brands in-house, from the forty year old Dawn to the more recent household name Febreze. All that fantastic research and development resulted in a hefty pile of cash. Quality new products are difficult enough to produce on a consistent basis, but a tougher task can be deciding how to invest profits back into the business.
Eight years ago, P&G acquired Gillette to add a brand that is now worth over $18 billion. Many will argue that the decision to pay $57 billion for the brand has not yet paid off, but the move allowed Procter & Gamble to control 70% of the razors and blades market. Old brands and new, useful products make a fine case for the largest player in the house.
Toothpaste for the win
I've lived in enough college-style situations to see dishes pile up in the sink and plenty of beards go untrimmed, but rarely do people skip brushing their teeth. Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) is in my medicine cabinet, and it is my favorite investment in the household and personal products industry. Although it is the most expensive choice discussed here with a P/E of 26.9, the price is outweighed by positives such as its 2.1% dividend and the fact that approximately 75% of its sales are generated outside of the United States.
Emerging markets are high risk for investors, but simple products such as toothpaste and soap bought by new consumers serve as more of a necessity than a technological advancement for lesser-developed countries. This diversification in over 200 countries has helped Colgate-Palmolive maintain a strong operating margin of 22.8% for 2012. This was a slight decline from 2011, yet the company still outpaced both Church and Dwight and Procter & Gamble by over 4%. Colgate is big enough to compete with the likes of companies such as P&G but small enough to offer high growth potential, particularly with its global reach.
Colgate-Palmolive has strong in-house brands such as Palmolive and Ajax to take care of those aforementioned dishes. It has also acquired household names from outside sources, such as Speed Stick after the purchase of Mennen. Morningstar classifies Colgate as a "classic growth" stock, which products such as dish soap and deodorant support. The company's focus on newer growth areas such as pet nutrition (Hills) make for a bright future, particularly in the US because of our increasing love for animal family members.
At least one
All three of these companies are recommended by countless analysts, but the bottom line is to get at least one of them in your portfolio. They produce consumer staples that will not be replaced by "next generation" products anytime soon. Innovation and great brands will keep each company strong, and continued success historically points to more dividends from all three. The products are already in your house; now put them in your wallet.