I surveyed the investment universe for companies that are cranking out decent earnings during these recessionary times. These companies are offsetting weak U.S. growth by tapping into fast growing emerging markets and, as a result, are poised to continue rewarding shareholders for the long term. Here is my analysis:
Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT): The stock of this retail giant is down about 3% for the year, and trades at a relatively cheap trailing price earnings multiple of 11.1 when compared to Target (NYSE:TGT), at 12.4. It pays a solid 2.7% dividend yield.
The company is focusing on growing sales at its domestic stores by offering the lowest prices on a wide range of goods. The company’s generic brands offer growth potential as more people are trading down in the current economic times. Emerging market growth is also key to Wal-Mart’s future success as its faces stiff competition on its home turf. This is where Wal-Mart has the edge over its rivals.
Management increased the annual dividend at a rate of over 15% for the past five years. Considering that the stock price did very little in past 10 years, let’s assume the same scenario for the next ten years. An investor could buy one thousand shares at the current price and collect the dividend yield. Factor in 10% annual growth in the dividend, which is reinvested quarterly. In ten years time, the $52,000 will turn into $81,700.
Avon Products (NYSE:AVP): The stock has fallen about 25% for the year and trades at 12.7 times its trailing twelve months earnings. Dividend stands at $0.92 per share, or an enticing 4.3% yield. In May, Avon raised its quarterly dividend by 4.5%.
Avon has grown its sales and dividends by 6% over the last five years. This is not something to write home about, but it is still a decent showing. The company is facing lawsuits relating to improper payments to officials in foreign countries which hurt sentiment towards the stock.
Foreign markets account for 83% of Avon’s revenues, presenting significant growth potential, which is partially offset by foreign exchange risk. The company has embarked on a multi-year reorganization and cost savings plan which is expected to realize savings of roughly $880 million by 2013.
The turnaround in Avon’s fortunes will take time and patient investors will likely be rewarded over the next ten years.
Diageo (NYSE:DEO): The stock is up about 5% for the year and trades at 16.3 times its trailing twelve months earnings. It pays a healthy $3.26 dividend or 4.3% yield. Shares are much cheaper than those of rival SABMiller (OTCPK:SBMRY) at 23.2 (ttm). The stock has risen about 90% over the last ten years.
Diageo grew its sales by 6.5%, earnings per share by 2.6%, and dividend by 5.37% over the last five years. Its flagship rum, scotch and gin brands are popular in the international market. The international business segment is a star performer with sales rising 13% for the second quarter, helped by strong growth in volume from its premium brands.
Looking ahead, consumption in developed markets should take time to improve while emerging markets will continue to drive both the top and bottom line.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL): Apple trades at 16.3 times its trailing twelve months (ttm) earnings, slightly above the industry average of 15.8 and at a significant premium to struggling rivals Hewlett Packard (NYSE:HPQ), at 5.27, and Research in Motion (RIMM), at 3.6.
The stock has risen about 28% for the year, outpacing its competitors significantly. Apple has grown its sales and earnings per share by 36.2% and 57.8% respectively, for each of the last five years. The company’s brands are entrenched, with the outlook for the Mac, iPad and iPhone remaining strong due to healthy demand from local and international markets.
The major competitive advantage of Apple is the creative genius of Steve Jobs. With his leave of absence, the creative void will be tough to recreate. This is essential in the fiercely competitive environment in which Apple operates. On the contrary, Apple is the dominant brand in the increasingly popular market for smartphones and tablets. This will ensure Apple continues to rake in profits for the years ahead.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG): The stock has lagged the market, falling about 9% for the year. It trades at 19.7 times its trailing twelve months (ttm) earnings. Shares are pricier than those of AOL, Inc (NYSE:AOL), at 6.02, and Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO), at 16.1. The stock has risen about 400% since its IPO.
Google grew its sales and earnings per share by 36.7% and 39.2%, respectively, for each of the last five years. The company continues to partner with major firms to enhance its presence in all aspects of consumers’ lives, as exemplified by its recent partnership with Visa (NYSE:V).
The word "Google" is entrenched in consumers' minds which, is a competitive advantage that is tough to match. Earnings should progress in a less robust fashion than in previous years as the company looks to enhance its search engine offerings and invest in new partnerships or acquisitions.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.