The consumer staples sector includes companies that produce and sell various types of food, beverages, tobacco and other household-related items. Because the demand for consumer staples is highly inelastic, and most consumers treat these products as necessities, the sector is not susceptible to business cycles and performs relatively better during bad times. However, because the demand for consumer staples is relatively stable, the sector overall does not produce spectacular growth. Yet, consumer staples stocks are excellent defensive investments that demonstrate high dividends due to stable cash flows. Consumer staples companies that pay dividends have dividend yields that average between 2 to 3% with some companies having yields above 5%. From 2010 to 2015, industries within the consumer staples sector have demonstrated returns ranging from 10 to 20%, including capital appreciation and dividends.
Philip Morris International, Inc.
Philip Morris International, Inc. (NYSEARCA: PM) produces cigarettes and other nicotine-related products in over 180 markets worldwide. It is a strong consumer defensive stock that has a solid brand recognition backed up by average growth rates for sales and net income of 3 to 4% over the last five years. The company is a key player in emerging market countries and derives a large portion of its revenues from these markets, which provide the company with a significant growth boost. Operating margins in Asia were about 40%, which is slightly above that for its competitors. The company still has room for increasing its margins by improving its overall operating efficiency.
PM's intangible assets and pricing power are at the core of the company's success. The greatest risk for the company lies in legislation initiatives that would require plain packaging. The dividend yield of 5%, as of September 2015, makes this stock an attractive option for investors interested in income investing.
Procter & Gamble Co.
Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSEARCA: PG) produces and sells various packaged goods for consumers, including beauty, grooming and various personal health care products. It experienced declines in its revenues and income, and it is working on improving its profitability. Despite overreaching into too many markets and failing to get new consumers interested, PG remains a formidable competitor in the global markets of consumer products.
Company announcements to improve profitability by getting rid of numerous unprofitable brands may prove a pivotal point in PG's turnaround. Despite weak and volatile consumer spending and challenges on the operating side, the company is poised to regain its profitability with its cost-cutting initiatives. The current dividend yield of 3.9% makes PG attractive for those looking for an investment with turnaround prospects and stable returns from dividends.
B&G Foods, Inc.
B&G Foods, Inc. (NYSEARCA: BGS) manufactures and sells a wide variety of shelf-stable grocery items, such as food and different household products. It derives a bulk of its sales from Canada and the United States. From 2010 to 2015, the company's cash flows growth and net income growth rates substantially surpassed the food industry averages. It has earned substantial brand recognition with some of its products, and an acquisition of specialty products from other food companies repositioned BGS as an emerging player on the food market. Despite challenges with some of its snack and other packaged products, BGS is likely to continue growing at a faster pace compared to its peers.
The dividend increase announcement by the company's management in July 2015 is a sign of confidence the company will continue generating cash flows to afford higher payouts to its shareholders. The current dividend yield of 3.8% makes BGS an attractive option for income-seeking investors.
The Coca-Cola Co
The Coca-Cola Co (NYSEARCA: KO) is a well-known producer of soft drink beverages. It experienced significant operational challenges and declines in its revenues and income due to sluggish demand from overseas markets and the shift of U.S. consumer preference to healthier products in 2014-2015. In response to these challenges, it outlined measures to increase the sales volume by 3 to 4% and revenue growth by 6 to 8% by 2020. Also, a high degree of KO's exposure to international markets is poised to drive growth in the future. Its dominant position in numerous markets, strong brand presence and highly efficient production process present an interesting turnaround thesis for this stock. As of September 2015, the dividend yield of KO stands at 3.5%.
Like other consumer products manufacturers with exposure to international markets, Kimberly-Clark Corporation (NYSEARCA: KMB) experienced declines in its sales and profits in 2014-2015. Some of the company's products, such as diapers and personal care goods, face intense competition from rivals despite KMB's strong brand presence. In 2015, the company outlined a strategic shift to sell or close its less-profitable operations, such as diaper products sold in Europe and low-margin consumer tissue goods. These steps should allow the company to focus and turn around profitability for some of its well-known products. As of September 2015, it has a dividend yield of 3.4%.
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSEARCA: BUD) is a well-known alcoholic beverages producer that is one of the strongest defensive stocks in the consumer staples sector. Anheuser-Busch has a very strong global presence and enjoys dominant or near monopoly positions in certain markets, letting the company charge premium prices for its products. It has a significant cost advantage and above-average rate of return when compared to similar brewers. The major risk the company faces is its high revenue concentration on overseas markets, which exposes BUD to foreign currency fluctuations and may reduce its profitability at times of foreign exchange turbulence.
Anheuser-Busch owns the top five beer brands in the world by volume in not only premium class but also lower-class beers. Certain brands, such as Corona Extra and Brahma, enjoy strong brand loyalty, which allows the company to charge higher than average prices for its alcoholic beverages. As of September 2015, BUD has a dividend yield of 3.2%. Combined with strong operational and financial performance and solid and stable cash flow, the company presents an attractive investment thesis for those interested in dividend investing.