Long-term investors may be interested to know that the S&P 500 maintains a list of dividend aristocrats—a group of companies that raised their dividends for the last 25 consecutive years. Two of those companies, beverage/snack giant PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) and condiment maker McCormick (NYSE:MKC), represent relatively stable consumer companies that in all likelihood will give you a raise in the form of dividend increases for years to come.
Let's check out their fundamentals to see if these companies continue to generate the revenue and cash flow growth that are the life blood of long-term capital gains and future dividend increases.
The goose that laid the golden chip
PepsiCo sells well-known beverages such as Pepsi Cola, Mountain Dew, and Tropicana juices in addition to foods such as Lay's potato chips and Quaker oats. The company is headed by an individual with a knack for strategic acumen: Indra Nooyi. Over the past 10 years PepsiCo grew its revenue, net income, and free cash flow 127%, 60%, and 88% respectively .
PepsiCo possesses an ok balance sheet with cash coming in at 44% of stockholder's equity as of the most recent quarter. Its long-term debt to equity ratio resides a little in the steep range at 106% since interest from long-term debt can choke out profitability and cash flow. It's preferable for a company to possess a long-term debt to equity ratio of less than 50%. However, PepsiCo's operating income exceeds interest expense by nine times. The rule of thumb for safety resides at five times.
The best way to gauge a company's dividend sustainability is to look at how much of its free cash flow is paid out in dividends in a full year. In 2013, PepsiCo paid out 49% of its free cash flow in dividends. Currently the company pays its shareholders $2.62 per share per year translating into a yield of 3%. PepsiCo's fundamental strength translated into capital gains of 66% over the past decade. Reinvestment of dividend payments added a whopping 48% to the total investment return earning investors 114% over the past 10 years .
Add some spice to your portfolio
McCormick sells condiments such as spices, gravy mixes, and herbs. The company caters to individual consumers as well the commercial market. One of the more interesting aspects of this company stems from the high degree of inside ownership--McCormick's employee 401k plan owns 20% of the company. Employees who own part of the company they work for will take better care of company interests simply due to the fact that part of their wealth depends upon it. Over the past 10 years McCormick grew its revenue, net income, and free cash flow 63%, 81%, and 31% respectively.
Looking at McCormick's balance sheet, cash and long-term debt to equity registered at 5% and 51% respectively in the last quarter. Operating income exceeded interest expense by a comfortable 10 times . In 2013, McCormick paid out 49% of its free cash flow in dividends. Currently the company pays its shareholders $1.48 per share per year and yields 2.1% annually. McCormick's stock generated a capital gain of 104% over the past 10 years. Reinvestment of McCormick's dividends and dividend raises added another 52% to the overall shareholder return during that time.
What about the raises?
PepsiCo's dividend raises will most likely continue as PepsiCo continues to introduce new products especially on the snack side of the business. The most recent introductions include the Cracker Jack'D Energy Trail Mix flavors Chocolate Flavored Cherry and Mixed Berry as well as the Lays Pops Crisps' Salt and Vinegar flavor. PepsiCo will also find ways to properly complement its food and beverage offerings in convenient places for consumer purchases.
People will always eat and they will most likely use, McCormick's pepper, spices, and gravy mixes. Expect dividend growth to come from future price increases and emerging markets expansion for this company.
Both of these companies deserve a long-term spot in your portfolio.