Nestlé Follows the Money Trail in China

Montreal, Canada

One of my favorite companies in the world is Nestlé SA of Switzerland (Zurich-NESN). Regardless of your age or risk, this stock can comfortably sit in every portfolio.

Every day, Nestlé earns more than $200 million dollars in gross sales – that’s more than some small countries earn in quarterly tax revenues. The stock is a staple in many global portfolios and has delivered the goods to shareholders. Since 2001, Nestle in Zurich has gained a cumulative 115% in U.S. dollars with about 42% of that total return generated from a strong Swiss franc (CHF), 37% from capital appreciation and 21% from dividends.

Nestlé, unlike most of its competitors, is having no problems hiking prices for many of its core brands. And despite surging input costs for things like coffee, cocoa and wheat – key ingredients for Nestlé products – the stock has gained more than 5% this year in local currency.

I love the Nestlé brand. Virtually everywhere I travel, mostly in the United States and Europe, the Nestle logo is ubiquitous.

The company’s Nespresso cafés and coffee pods have been a rage over the last few years with margins fattening, despite rising competition. The brand sells like hot-cakes.

Earlier this week, Nestle announced it purchased a majority stake in one of China’s strongest food brands, Yinlu Food Groups.

It’s no surprise that Nestlé’s profit margins are growing in Asia while either flat or slowing in the West. That’s the story for many global titans, including Coke, McDonald’s, Deere & Co. and General Electric just to name a few blue-chips. The big bucks are out East.

Nestlé, no doubt, is aiming to conquer China through an aggressive expansion vis-à-vis Yinlu and with more than 1 billion mouths to feed, Nestlé is smartly positioned.

In the first quarter, Nestlé boosted its annual dividend by 15.6% — pretty darn impressive considering it’s denominated in a super-strong currency. The stock trade’s below its 52-week high and the dividend yield alone at 3.5% is 68% more than benchmark ten-year Swiss government bonds.

I plugged Nestle in The Sovereign Individual almost three years ago and I still like the company. Nobody does it better than Nestle.

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