Alcohol was discovered not long after the dawn of civilization. Given its age, the global alcohol industry is hardly a fast-growing investment. However, through good economic times and bad, alcohol stocks enjoy steady rates of consumer consumption.

Smiling people holding drinks and making a toast.
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The alcohol industry, as well as the related beer industry and wine industry, is dominated by massive conglomerates. Since most small-batch craft producers are privately owned, this market is mostly devoid of small, fast-growing, publicly traded companies. Nevertheless, alcohol stocks are worth considering for investors seeking stable growth and dividend income over time.

Top alcohol stocks for 2024

Five top alcohol stocks for 2024

Alcohol is a big business. It overlaps the water utility segment of the economy a bit because the alcohol-distilling process consumes a significant amount of local water supplies. Alcohol production is also adjacent to wheat, grains, and farming and agriculture, so there are stocks to bet on in those areas, too.

But when it comes to slow-and-steady beverage businesses, alcohol tends to enjoy stable sales, even when general consumer spending takes a hit elsewhere. Sometimes, alcohol sales even increase when the economy takes a turn for the worse, as they did during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

There is some overlap with the beer-making business, too. For example, Budweiser parent AB InBev (BUD 0.65%) and smaller peers Constellation Brands (STZ 1.38%), which makes Corona and Modelo, and Boston Beer Company (SAM -2.44%), which produces Samuel Adams, all own brands that lie outside their core brewing operations.

However, the following five stocks are known for their top-shelf alcohol offerings.

Market cap as of March 13, 2024. Data source: YCharts.  
Company Market Cap Description
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (OTC:LVMUY) $469 billion A house of fashion and the owner of high-end champagne and distilled spirits brands
Diageo (NYSE:DEO) $83 billion Britain's largest distiller and one of the world's largest alcohol business pure plays
Pernod Ricard (OTC:PDRDY) $42 billion A French company with a diversified stable of alcohol, including vodka, whiskey, and gin
Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF.B) $26 billion Kentucky-based distiller best-known for its whiskey, but it owns plenty of other alcohol labels as well
Rémy Cointreau (OTC:REMY.Y) $5.2 billion Another French owner of various spirits, especially cognac

1. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

France's LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton is the premier name in all things luxury goods. But champagne and other ultra-high-end spirits feature prominently in this diverse portfolio of high fashion. In fact, the company's name says as much. LVMH owns champagne house Moët Chandon, cognac maker Hennessy, and other brands, including Dom Pérignon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, and more.

LVMH -- whose CEO, Bernard Arnault, was one of the richest people in the world as of early 2024 -- reported a decline in sales during the pandemic in 2020. Wine and spirits took a 15% hit compared to 2019 sales. The segment roared back to life in 2022, though, as the economy recovered and spending on luxury products normalized. On an organic basis (excluding acquisitions), wine and champagne sales increased by 2% in 2023, and cognac and spirits decreased by 10%.

This is a long-term growth business since its fashion collection is highly sought after worldwide. However, LVMH also pays a modest dividend to complement the steady expansion of its portfolio of fashion and champagne.

2. Diageo

Diageo is the U.K.'s largest alcohol producer. It's also one of the world's largest businesses almost solely devoted to distilled products. Although it has a beer business -- Irish brewer Guinness is one of its subsidiaries -- Scotch whisky is the real breadwinner here. Diageo is the parent of Johnnie Walker, Buchanan's, J&B, and Lagavulin. Other spirits brands outside its ample whisky business include Smirnoff, Baileys, and Tanqueray.

It's an enviable stable of alcohol names, and Diageo has been able to coax steady growth from its portfolio for years. It's also a highly profitable operation, historically generating an operating profit margin that tops 30% annually, although the margin did dip to a mid-20% range in 2023. Nevertheless, due to its exceptional financials, Diageo is a top dividend income stock to consider from the alcohol stock universe.

3. Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard is another house of alcohol brands tailored to wide-ranging tastes. The French company owns Pernod and Ricard, two anise-flavored liqueurs from which the company's name is derived. It also owns Absolut vodka, Beefeater gin, Chivas Regal Scotch whisky, Jameson Irish whiskey, Kahlua, Malibu, and many other labels.

Much like the other brands on this list, Pernod Ricard isn't the fastest-growing business around. Revenue recovered from a small pullback in 2020, when sales briefly dipped during the start of the pandemic, and it hasn't looked back. The company also has enviable operating profit margins nearing the 30% range.  

4. Brown-Forman

While Kentucky-based Brown-Forman had its share of difficulties during the start of the pandemic, the leading maker of Tennessee and Kentucky whiskeys has enjoyed an overall increase in sales over the last five years. This is a top growth story in the alcohol world because bourbon and whiskey have been trending beverages among consumers of all ages in the U.S. and abroad.

Brown-Forman's whiskey brands include Jack Daniel's, Woodford Reserve, and Old Forester. It also owns a few Scotch whisky and tequila labels, Finlandia vodka, Chambord liqueur, some wineries, and more. It generates operating margins well above 30% and uses them to reinvest in organic growth and to make the occasional acquisition. It also pays a small dividend for investors looking for a little income along the way.

5. Rémy Cointreau

Rounding out our list of alcohol stocks is another French company, Rémy Cointreau, best known for its cognacs, Louis XIII and Rémy Martin, and its orange-flavored liqueur Cointreau. A number of other distilled products, such as gin, rum, and a champagne house, round out the company's offerings.

Despite a brief sales freeze in the spring of 2020, during the initial wave of pandemic lockdowns, Rémy Cointreau reported a rebound through 2022, which included effects from its divested joint venture with Passoã liqueur in late 2020. Sales dipped again in 2023, but Rémy Cointreau remains well above where it was in 2019. The company is working on fostering growth in its portfolio by elevating its brands' profiles as premium choices.

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A slow but steady industry

Alcohol production is an old business, and the alcohol industry is far from the fastest-growing segment of the stock market. The investable portion of the industry is dominated by a few giants that are slow-and-steady stalwarts. However, for investors looking to generate some income and enjoy some stable returns over time, alcohol stocks and their beer stock cousins are worth a look.

FAQ

Alcohol stocks FAQ

What are the best alcohol stocks to buy?

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Some of the best alcohol stocks to buy and hold are big companies that manage a stable of diversified brands. Top names include LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Brown-Forman, and Rémy Cointreau.

Can you buy stock in alcohol?

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Yes, a number of companies listed above are top players in the alcohol industry. Also, consider companies involved in the production of wine and beer, which also have publicly traded stocks.

Is it a good idea to invest in alcohol?

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Alcohol is an old industry and doesn't offer the highest growth rates around. But for investors looking for more slow-and-steady growth and dividends, alcohol stocks might be a good idea to buy as part of a well-diversified portfolio.

Does alcohol have stocks?

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Yes, a number of alcohol companies (listed above) have stocks. Some stocks yield investment exposure to beer and wine, too.

Nicholas Rossolillo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Boston Beer and Constellation Brands. The Motley Fool recommends Diageo Plc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.