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Last year, I nominated British booze behemoth Diageo (NYSE: DEO) in "The Best International Stock" contest, so I couldn't be happier that it beat the S&P 500 by six percentage points, posting 11.7% returns.

OK, off the high horse
While those returns aren't that impressive relative to the performance of some of 2007's hottest ADRs like Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU) and SunTech Power (NYSE: STP), Diageo investors nevertheless got exactly what they wanted from the company last year -- dividends and steady growth.

I believe that trend will continue in 2008 and beyond.

In 2006, I mentioned that Diageo was one of only four U.S.-listed mega-caps with a dividend yield greater than 3%, 30% ROE, and 30% EBIT margins. The others were CNOOC (NYSE: CEO), Petrobras (NYSE: PBR), and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK).

Diageo barely missed that cut this year, with its EBIT margin sliding a bit to 28.3%, but the other figures remain solid -- the dividend yield is 4.1% and ROE is 31.9%.

In its most recent shareholder report, Diageo increased its guidance for organic profit growth from 8% to 9% for 2008. Emerging markets like Africa, Latin America, and Asia have been particularly strong growth markets for the firm, which does more than 60% of its business outside of Europe.

Bear market bully
Even if the market continues to slide over the next year or so, Diageo should be a relatively reliable holding. For one, its ubiquitous brands like Jose Cuervo, Johnny Walker, and Smirnoff may even be consumed at a greater rate if the global economy tightens its purse strings. On the other hand, if the economy gets better, consumers may "trade up" to try its premium brands.

Perhaps most importantly, Diageo will pay you back with solid dividends no matter what news the market delivers. 

Diageo isn't going to set any single-year performance records, but if you're looking to buy a recession-resistant, dividend-paying company with a global reach, Diageo is worth further research.

London calling
Over on Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investment community, investors are also bullish on Diageo. It currently commands a five-star rating (the highest) with 99% of those who rated the stock expecting it to outperform the S&P going forward.

What do you think about Diageo? You can make your voice heard on CAPS right now, where more than 83,000 investors are waiting to hear what you have to say. To rate Diageo and explain your investment thesis, click here.

Fool contributor Todd Wenning enjoys a glass of Johnny Walker Blue on special occasions. He owns shares of Diageo, which is a  Motley Fool Income Investor pick, along with GlaxoSmithKline and Petrobras. Baidu.com and SunTech Power are Motley Fool Rule Breakers choices. The Fool's disclosure policy ate the worm.