Want ketchup with that?
H.J. Heinz (
) on Friday became the latest company to move dividend payment
dates forward to December, shielding investors from the
likelihood of higher dividend taxes next year. Heinz will now pay
its quarterly dividend in late December instead of in
Investors of record on Dec. 11 will qualify for the quarterly
payout of $0.515 per share to be distributed Dec. 26. The stock's
dividend yield is 3.5%, well above the S&P 500 average of
Heinz is among the world's biggest producers of frozen foods,
snacks, soups, sauces and ketchup. Its revenue is spread evenly
among Europe, North America and Asia.
In addition to a tasty dividend yield, the stock has risen
steadily since bottoming in March 2009, hewing closely to its
10-week line. It's just 1% below a 52-week high.
So far this year, the stock has risen 8%, trailing the S&P
500's 12.1% gain. Compared with a year earlier, it's up 11.2% vs.
the S&P's 13.3% increase.
Like many big-cap stocks, Heinz's earnings aren't stellar.
It's three-year earnings-per-share growth rate is just 8% and the
three-year sales pace is an anemic 5%. But Heinz's three-year
earnings stability factor is 1 on a scale of 0 (most stable) to
99 (least stable).
Heinz is a middling stock in the 30-member Food-Packaged
industry group, which on Tuesday was ranked No. 42 out of the 197
industry groups that IBD tracks. But only a few can match Heinz's
earnings stability, steady capital appreciation and dividend
Much of Heinz's recent growth has come from emerging markets
such as China, Brazil and Russia. To that end, Heinz recently
appointed Franck Moison, Colgate-Palmolive's COO of emerging
markets and South Pacific, to its board of directors.
Zacks Investment Research, in a report following Heinz's Q2
earnings Nov. 20, said Heinz's "robust brand portfolio, continued
strong growth in emerging markets, strong marketing investments
and ongoing cost saving efforts will boost long-term growth."
But it added that "continued sluggishness" in North America is
a "significant concern."