Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), and DIRECTV (NYSE:DTV.DL) are very different companies operating in unrelated industries. On the other hand, they have two very important similarities: The three of them are part of Warren Buffett's investment holding portfolio, and they are also trading at attractive valuation levels.
Coca-Cola offers sparkling dividends
Things haven't been easy for Coca-Cola lately; consumers in developed markets are paying increasing attention to the calories in the drinks they consume. In emerging markets, where volume is still expanding at a considerable rate, unfavorable currency fluctuations are affecting growth in recent quarters.
However, Coca-Cola owns 17 brands making over $1 billion in global annual revenue, in addition to 20 other growing brands generating between $0.5 billion and $1 billion in sales. This includes not only sodas but also healthier choices such as waters, juice, and sports drinks, all of which are positioned for growth among consumers looking for healthier alternatives.
Management estimates that nearly 800 million consumers will enter into the middle class by the end of this decade, and personal expenditure per capita is expected to grow 70% by 2020. This bodes remarkably well in terms of consumer demand in emerging markets over the coming years, and Coca-Cola is uniquely positioned to profit from those opportunities because of its global scale and brand recognition.
Coca-Cola has raised its dividend for 52 consecutive years, through good and bad economic times, so financial strength is not a question for this global juggernaut. This includes a dividend increase of 9% announced in February.
The dividend yield stands at 3.2%, which looks like an attractive valuation considering the company's quality and outstanding track record of dividend growth.
ExxonMobil is full of energy
When it comes to the energy sector, ExxonMobil is an undisputed industry leader. In fact, considering its gigantic market cap of nearly $420 billion, the company is one of the biggest corporations on the planet.
Global presence, integrated operations, unmatchable scale, and abundant financial resources generate considerable competitive strengths for ExxonMobil when competing for exploration projects all over the world. In addition, integration and scale produce superior profitability for the company versus other industry players.
Considering its size, it's not easy for ExxonMobil to find new projects with enough size to move the needle and an adequate risk-versus-profitability profile. Still, the company has managed to generate consistently growing dividends for shareholders over the long term.
Exxon has paid uninterrupted dividends since 1911, and the company has raised its payments for 31 years in a row. The stock is paying a dividend yield of 2.7%, and the payout ratio is comfortably low at around 33% of earnings, so dividends will most likely continue growing in the years ahead.
Energy companies usually trade at a discount to the general market because of their cyclicality, but ExxonMobil looks undervalued even when keeping these considerations in mind. The stock trades at a P/E ratio of 13 times earnings, versus an average P/E ratio of 18 for companies in the S&P 500 index.
Watching DIRECTV's growth in Latin America
DIRECTV owns a leading market position among a valuable user base of big spenders in television services. It's relatively inexpensive for the company to add new customers in terms of the required capital investments, and its size has allowed DIRECTV to acquire the rights to enormously valuable content such as the National Football League's Sunday Ticket package.
While most of the company's growth in the U.S. comes from increasing average revenues per user, Latin America is proving to be a compelling opportunity for DIRECTV in terms of subscriber growth.
Excluding changes in foreign exchange rates, DIRECTV reported a 24% increase in Latin America revenues during the fourth quarter of 2013. This was driven by a strong growth rate of 15% in the average number of subscribers and an increase of 8% in local currency average revenues per user.
DIRECTV trades at a lower-than-average P/E ratio of 11.5 times earnings estimates for 2015, which looks like a convenient valuation considering the company's competitive position in the U.S. and growth opportunities south of the border.
Investors should never blindly follow the moves of others, not even Warren Buffett himself. However, when it comes to Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, and DIRECTV, there are solid reasons to believe these stocks may be undervalued. In any case, having Warren Buffett on the same side of your position won't hurt at all.