Companies that produce alcohol are often called "sin" stocks, a phrase used to describe companies that operate in the vices. Other types of sin stocks include gaming and tobacco companies. But while there is a certain stigma associated with these kinds of companies, sin stocks usually are highly profitable and pay generous dividends to shareholders, which makes them worthy of investment consideration.
With all of this in mind, here are three stocks in the alcohol industry that have rewarded their shareholders with compelling stock price appreciation and high dividend yields. Investors should consider Diageo plc (NYSE:DEO), Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF-B), and Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD).
Strong brands lead the way
Diageo is a huge spirits company, with a $75 billion market capitalization. Diageo's portfolio of brands includes Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Guinness, Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, and Ketel One.
Diageo grew revenue by 1% last year, and net sales were flat over the first half of 2015, which was far from a stellar performance. But the company is targeting higher growth in the future as a result of its emerging market focus. Under-developed regions like Asia-Pacific represented just 13% of the company's sales last year. Diageo intends to grow this presence going forward in places like Africa, where spirits volume soared 25% over the first half of the year.
Brown-Forman might not be a household name, but it's got a world-class brand that is instantly recognized: Jack Daniels. But that's not all. Brown-Forman also holds a diversified portfolio, including tequila brands Herradura and el Jimador, and vodka brand Finlandia.
Brown-Forman recently wrapped up a very successful fiscal year. Organic sales, which exclude the impact of currency fluctuations, rose 6% year over year. Organic diluted earnings per share increased 11% in the period. Emerging markets led the way, where organic revenue grew 9% last year. Brown-Forman generated a 22% return on invested capital.
Anheuser-Busch dominates beer -- it's a massive, $200 billion company by market capitalization. It reached its current size by large acquisitions, including the $52 billion deal in 2008 that combined InBev and Anheuser-Busch. Then, in 2013, AB-InBev acquired the remaining portion of Groupo Modelo that it didn't already own for $20.1 billion. The result is a vast portfolio of more than 200 brands that stretches across the globe, including Budweiser, Stella Artois, and Corona, to name a few.
Within its portfolio, 16 different brands collect at least $1 billion in annual sales. In all, total sales have climbed from $36 billion in 2010 to $47 billion last year, representing 30% revenue growth over four years. And, the company aggressively cut costs thanks to its scale and unparalleled distribution capabilities, which has brought significant earnings growth. AB-InBev's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) grew 6% last year, to $18.5 billion.
Aggressive cash returns
Because each of these companies is highly profitable and holds excellent brands, it's easy for them to return a lot of cash to shareholders. For example, earlier this year, AB-InBev announced a $1 billion share buyback and raised its dividend by a whopping 46%. Today, AB-InBev yields roughly 3%.
Diageo pays a semi-annual dividend, and management stated its intention to raise its interim dividend by 9%. Diageo's dividend is secure, as well: The company keeps its earnings per share at 1.8-2.2 times the dividend.
Brown-Forman has paid regular quarterly cash dividends for 69 consecutive years and has increased the dividend for 31 years in a row. This makes it a member of the exclusive Dividend Aristocrat list. It's also employing an aggressive share repurchase program. The company recently increased its share buyback program by an extra $1 billion, to be conducted during the next year. This amounts to approximately 5% of the company's current market capitalization.
The bottom line is that Diageo, AB-InBev, and Brown-Forman each sell products that can easily be found in millions of households across America, and millions more across the world. Their strong brands and stable cash flow allow each company to reward shareholders through both share repurchases and hefty dividends, and make them worth considering for your portfolio.