Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Free Article Join Over 1 Million Premium Members And Get More In-Depth Stock Guidance and Research

3 Everyday Companies Dividend Investors Should Own

By Jacob Meredith - Mar 12, 2014 at 4:10PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

These three food producers could add safety and yield to your portfolio.

In today's world of low interest rates and a poor outlook on bonds looking forward, finding yield is often a difficult task. However, by investing in General Mills ( GIS 2.18% ), ConAgra ( CAG 1.26% ), and Kellogg ( K 1.73% ), you could be earning dividends currently yielding 3%, 3.5%, and 3%, respectively. You'll also get pieces of growing companies for years to come.

All three of these companies are large players in the packaged food industry, each of them owning several household brand names.

First, General Mills
General Mills sells too many brand names to even consider naming all of them. A short sampling includes Yoplait, Pillsbury, and Cheerios.

General Mills currently yields around 3% and has paid dividends every year for the last 115 years. During that time, the company have never reduced its dividend . Even better, it appears that this trend will go uninterrupted for many years to come.

General Mills has grown revenue on average 4.85% per year over the last ten years . Over the same time period, the company has grown its earnings per share by over 7% per year, helped by stock repurchases. With a steady profit margin of around 10% and a steady dividend payout ratio of around 45%, you should be confident in continued dividend increases.

At the end of the second quarter on Nov. 24, 2013, General Mills had $6.7 billion of long-term debt, representing a long-term debt to equity of 0.95 and 3.7 times last year's $1.8 billion. For a company producing as much cash as General Mills does each year, this debt is nothing to concern us.

Even higher yield for ConAgra owners
Like General Mills, ConAgra has a number of brands in its portfolio; it is the maker of Hunt's, Banquet, Healthy Choice, and many other brands. The company has an impressive dividend history as well. ConAgra has paid dividends every year since 1977 , and currently has a yield of 3.5%.

ConAgra's revenues and earnings have been more sporadic than General Mills, but they are still impressive. The company has earned over $700 million on $17.3 billion in sales over the latest twelve months. ConAgra is still struggling from its 2013 acquisition of Ralcorp, as earnings haven't played out as planned for ConAgra management . I suspect that earnings and margins should improve as ConAgra continues to work Ralcorp's private brand operations into its own.

At the end of the latest quarter, ConAgra had long-term debt of $8.7 billion, which is the one of the only troubling pieces of this puzzle. Debt increased fourfold in the third quarter of 2013 to fund the acquisition of Ralcorp. However, ConAgra's free cash flow over the last twelve months of $873 million is easily enough to cover the interest expense of $367 million over the same period. Again, as the acquisition of Ralcorp becomes part of normal operations, this debt load should not be a problem.

Kellogg treats you nicely
Lastly we have Kellogg, the large cereal and snack maker. Kellogg has been offering its shareholders a dividend since 1925: that's nearly 100 years of dividends, and it has increased the dividend in each of the last ten years .

Kellogg's smooth operations have helped the company to reward its shareholders, and will continue to do so moving forward. Kellogg modestly grew its revenue in each of the last ten years, averaging 4.4% growth per year. It has also more than doubled its earnings from ten years ago . Kellogg has also had very consistent profit margins of around 10% over the last ten years.

Kellogg has a modest capital structure as well, with $6.3 billion of long-term debt in December 2013. This represents a somewhat high 1.75 long-term debt to equity ratio, but the company earned over $1.8 billion last year so this amount should not bother us as investors.

Bottom line
You could diversify across these three major food producers to collect nice dividends and join in the industry's growth, or you could pick and choose. General Mills, ConAgra, Kellogg, are selling at 18.9, 17.9, and 12.4 times earnings, respectively, as compared to an industry average of 17.9. By this measure, none of the three are selling at outrageous prices. However, by the price to earnings ratio and by the stability of operations, it appears that Kellogg may be the most reasonably priced of the three.

All three of these companies produce products that you and I consume every day. Owning these three great companies could give your portfolio safety through difficult market conditions while offering an attractive yield that should continue to grow as the years go on. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Kellogg Company Stock Quote
Kellogg Company
K
$63.00 (1.73%) $1.07
General Mills, Inc. Stock Quote
General Mills, Inc.
GIS
$64.23 (2.18%) $1.37
Conagra Brands, Inc. Stock Quote
Conagra Brands, Inc.
CAG
$31.37 (1.26%) $0.39

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
640%
 
S&P 500 Returns
139%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 12/03/2021.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Our Most Popular Articles

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with the Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from the Motley Fool's premium services.