If you enjoy the World Cup as much as I do, this month will be full of soccer, and not as full of stock research. This could be a perfect time to initiate some positions that you can let sit for this month and, hopefully, for many more years to come without worrying. Two potential candidates for your portfolio could be Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and Flowers Foods (NYSE:FLO).
The Coca-Cola story
Coca-Cola had falling revenues and earnings in fiscal 2013 compared to 2012, and in the last year, the company's stock has lagged the market to the tune of 21.5% total return on the S&P 500, compared to 3.1% total return for shares of Coca-Cola. The fall in revenues and earnings can be attributed to slowing soda consumption worldwide.
Slowing soda consumption could be a long-term trend; however this poor year could present a perfect opportunity for long-term investors to jump in at relatively favorable prices. Right now, potential investors are looking at a company that:
- Is known for being very well run
- Has a very diversified revenue base, product-wise and geographically
- Spins off huge amounts of cash each year.
Right now, you could buy these three great attributes for only a slight premium to the market based on price-to-earnings ratios. Coca-Cola sells at 21.5 times trailing 12-month earnings compared to the market, which is at 18.3.
Coca-Cola's free-cash-flow-to-equity, which is represented as cash flow from operations minus cash used by investing plus net borrowing, has averaged nearly $8 billion during the last five years. Free-cash-flow-to-equity is a good measure for investors taking a minor stake in a company to use to see how reliable dividend streams and share buybacks will be. Coca-Cola's free-cash-flow-to-equity coverage of its dividend has averaged 1.8 during the last five years, so there should be no concern here.
Slow and steady for Flowers
Flowers Foods is the second-largest producer of packaged bakery foods in the United States. Just by that little introduction, you could easily guess that there's nothing overly exciting about this company's numbers. However, this could be just the spark your portfolio needs for true long-term growth.
The company, which sells bread and snack cakes under brands such as Nature's Own, Sunbeam, Mrs. Freshley's, and many more, estimates that 98% of households in America buy fresh-packaged bread. The great part about this company is that number probably does not vary much during different economic cycles, which, coupled with its size, is a huge competitive advantage that produces steady results.
During the last 10 years, the company's average compounded revenue and earnings growth were 9.2% and 16.3%, respectively. Revenues and earnings each grew in nine out of those 10 years, as well.
Using the same measure mentioned earlier, Flowers Foods' free cash-flow-to-equity has, on average, covered its dividend by 1.2 times in the last five years. Also, this dividend offers 2.3% yield at the current stock price.
The company plans to continuously grow through acquisitions and improved efficiency in all parts of its business. Investors who hop in now at 23 times earnings could hold on for a long and beneficial ride.
Buying and holding parts of excellent businesses is a sure way for Fools to make outstanding returns over the years. Both Coca-Cola and Flowers Foods are two well-run companies with relatively steady earnings, and return plenty of cash to shareholders. Each of these companies' size and brand names are huge competitive advantages that should help both achieve much future success that they can continue to share with stockholders.