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By Erin Lash, CFA | 06-22-2018

Three undervalued dividend payers with wide moats

These consumer products stocks are good picks for investors due to a recent erosion in shares.

Erin Lash: Attractive dividends abound in the consumer products realm, and given the recent erosion in shares, we think investors would be well-served to feast on these three undervalued, wide-moat names: Procter & Gamble, General Mills and Coca-Cola.

P&G has pampered investors with a stream of dividends for the past 130 years, and with the yield hovering around 4% and our outlook that returning excess cash to shareholders will remain a priority, we think investors should add this wide-moat name to their shopping cart. While shares trade at a more than 20% discount to our US$98 fair value estimate, we don't believe the recent pullback has reflected an erosion in the firm's competitive edge, but rather is due to the languishing top-line performance which has plagued operators across the industry. Moreover, we believe the firm's efforts to right-size its brand mix over the past several years will position it to focus its brand investments on the highest return opportunities and ensure that its mix better aligns with evolving consumer trends, bolstering its sales momentum and supporting the entrenched retail relationships that underlie its wide moat.

But attractive dividends aren't limited to the household and personal care space; rather investors craving dividends would also be wise to order up packaged food names, including General Mills. We think the market's confidence in this wide-moat firm's ability to restore top-line growth has faltered, considering continued softness in volume across the industry as well as skepticism around the acquisition of natural pet food company Blue Buffalo earlier this year. While the deal carries some inherent risk as General Mills enters a category in which it has limited experience, we remain confident in the firm's ability to efficiently integrate Blue Buffalo and extract cost synergies from combining these operations. Further, we don't portend its appetite for acquisitions will come at the expense of returning cash to shareholders. Given its discounted price, trading about 25% below our US$59 fair value estimate and with a 4%-plus dividend yield, we think the stock provides an attractive entry point for long-term investors.

Finally, we suggest investors thirsting for dividends look to Coca-Cola, boasting a dividend yield of more than 3.5%. As one of the world's top beverage manufacturers, Coca-Cola benefits from an unmatched distribution network. And while we surmise that concerns surrounding soft price/mix have weighed on shares of late, we attribute this to a shift in geographic mix toward developing markets rather than an erosion in the pricing power afforded by Coca-Cola's substantial brand equity. Further, we don't think the firm is merely resting on its laurels, but rather is looking to drive improvement through new product innovation and distribution growth. As such, with shares trading around a 15% discount to our valuation, combined with our expectations for mid-single-digit annual growth in its dividend over our forecast, we think investors should build a position in this wide-moat name.

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