PepsiCo: A Great Stock for New InvestorsWhat makes a great stock? A great stock is first and foremost a great business: It's profitable and well-run and has excellent prospects for growth over time.

That's the simple list. Obviously, the details behind these broad must-haves are where a company's potential and pitfalls are revealed. And with some businesses, those details can get fiendishly complicated.

But if you're someone who is new to stock investing -- maybe even looking for your very first stock -- you're looking for a slam dunk: a company you've heard of, with a business that's not hard to understand, a great reputation, and a track record that will let you sleep soundly at night -- and most important, those great prospects for growth over the long term.

That sounds like a high bar, but the company I have in mind might be in front of you right now -- or at least, in your kitchen.

A Great Investment Right Under Your Nose

Surely you're familiar with the brands owned by PepsiCo (PEP). Even if you don't have a few cans of Pepsi in your fridge, you probably see PepsiCo products dozens of times each day.

PepsiCo isn't just a soda company. It's a snack-food giant with over a dozen brands that each generate $1 billion or more in annual revenue. We're talking big, big, names, like Doritos, Tropicana, Quaker, Lay's, and Gatorade, in addition to the world-famous Pepsi family of sodas.

Organizationally, the company is divided into six divisions, of which the biggest and most important is snack colossus Frito-Lay. Frito-Lay, with its famous chip brands -- add in Fritos and Cheetos, among others, to the ones mentioned above, massive brands we love even if our waistlines don't -- dominates the U.S. snack market and is showing strong growth overseas.

A Big Consumer Company -- With Surprising Growth

The company's products might seem like entrenched staples here in the U.S., and sometimes that suggests a situation where there's not likely to be much growth over time. That in turn can mean a stock price that doesn't do much growing, either. That's not the story with PepsiCo.

PepsiCo is finding plenty of growth, particularly overseas. Consider: Through the third quarter, volume in the company's snacks businesses is up 7% year-to-date over last year, and 6% in beverages -- and those gains drove a 13% increase in net revenue for the third quarter versus comparable numbers from last year.

That's big growth for an already-giant consumer products company. Better yet, it's pretty typical for PepsiCo, thanks to rock-solid brands and great, steady management. That steady management (and steady profits) means that the company's 3.3% dividend yield is one you can count on.

But there's more to what makes PepsiCo special.

The Importance of the 'Moat'

One of the things that legendary investor Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) looks for in his investments is something he calls a "wide moat" -- and PepsiCo has a great one. Its brand and distribution channel are hard to beat.

Think about all the little corner convenience stores and gas stations where you see a Pepsi cooler or bags of Doritos and Cheetos by the register: How did they get there? And more to the point from an investment perspective, if you were starting a new company from scratch, how could you compete with that?

You'd need some heavy-duty marketing muscle to start. You'd have to be living in a cave to be unfamiliar with PepsiCo's marketing. The ads and billboards and logos are everywhere.

You'd need an army to get your products where they need to be. That requires a rock-solid distribution system. PepsiCo already has that -- and is making it work even harder. The company has been able to add to its basic soda-pop business with brands like Frito-Lay and Gatorade because those items ride those same trucks to all those big and little stores.

In order for a company to compete with the snack-food behemoth, it would need to make massive investments to build the distribution system and brand awareness that PepsiCo (and Coke) have. That's what's meant by a wide moat: Just as a moat surrounding a castle protects it from attack, barriers to entry like the need to establish brands and distribution systems on a massive scale protect the established players from disruptive newcomers.

A business That's Hard to Disrupt

Of course, no moat is invulnerable. PepsiCo has competitors, like Coca-Cola (KO), Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS), and to some extent Kraft Foods (KFT), but that's a small number of big players, and PepsiCo's market position in places like the U.S. is large and stable.

It's certainly possible that PepsiCo's position could erode over time. Forty years ago, General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) had what looked like an unassailable position at the top of the U.S. auto market, just as PepsiCo and Coca-Cola do now in the world of soft drinks. But over time, more nimble competitors with better products were able to overcome those moats and establish themselves as major players in their own right. While Ford and GM are still important players, their positions in the market have eroded.

That said, PepsiCo's management has proven to be very astute, and the company has the resources and market strength to adapt quickly if challenged. I think it's a pretty good long-term bet.

The Upshot: A Great Place to Get Started With Stocks

Long story short, here's a company with a business that's easy to understand; strong, steady growth; products that are known and loved around the world; and a solid dividend that can be reinvested to drive additional growth over time.

What's more, the stock fell from over $70 to around $62 during the recent market volatility. Strong earnings mean it's likely to recover, and that means it's a bit of a bargain right now. If you're looking for a good stock to get started with, you could do a lot worse than to grab some shares of PepsiCo.

At the time of publication, Motley Fool contributor John Rosevear owned shares of Ford and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Berkshire Hathaway, PepsiCo, General Motors, Ford, and Coca-Cola, as well as creating a diagonal call position in PepsiCo.



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13 Comments

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BOB G DANIELS

Pepsi in NOT a great stock to invest in. It only pays 3.3% dividend, and I can beat that any day the market is open. I had money in Pepesi...paid $71.00 for it; sold it at $51. It's too seasonal. Sales go down after Labor Day.
There are plenty of good co.'s out there with great cash flow and good dividends.
Bob Daniels

October 26 2011 at 11:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
robertwilliams2244

Now is the time to sell Smart Meter (Wireless Electric Utility Meter) stocks.

SMART METER PRIVACY VIOLATIONS.
1. Must-See 4-minute youtube video on Smart meters

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8JNFr_j6kdI


NATIONAL SECURITY RISKS DUE TO SMART METERS.
2. CIA Director James Woolsey calls Smart grid “Stupid” due to National Security problems caused by so-called smart meters.
News Video (1 minute)
http://www.energynow.com/video/2011/08/10/preview-mix-james-woolsey

October 24 2011 at 2:29 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
robertwilliams2244

Now is the time to sell Smart Meter (Wireless Electric Utility Meter) related stocks.

SMART METER PRIVACY VIOLATIONS.

1. Must-See 4-minute youtube video on Smart meters:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8JNFr_j6kdI


SMART METER HEALTH PROBLEMS AND CANCER.

2. The WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION May 31 2011 placed the Non-ionizing radiation coming from Wireless smart meters (and some other wireless devices) on the Class 2-B Carcinogen List.
http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf

3. The NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH Feb 2011 found biological changes in the brain after only minutes of exposure to non-ionizing radiation.
http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/305/8/808.abstract

4. LABORATORY SCIENTISTS have observed
(1) Human Cell Damage
(2) DNA Chain Breaks
(3) Breaches in the Blood-Brain Barrier
from levels of non-ionizing radiation lower than emitted by WIRELESS Smart meters.
http://electromagnetichealth.org/electromagnetic-health-blog/cc-video/

5. INSURANCE COMPANIES also observed the Damage and now will NOT Insure Liability from Wireless Smart meters and other wireless devices.
TV Video (3 minutes)
http://eon3emfblog.net/?p=382

Cell Phone use and other devices are Voluntary and can be shut off at the user’s discretion, but Smart meters mounted on homes are emitting radiation 24/7 and can not be shut off.


6. WIRELESS SMART METERS – 100 TIMES MORE RADIATION THAN CELL PHONES.
Video Interview: Nuclear Scientist, Daniel Hirsch, (5 minutes)
http://stopsmartmeters.org/2011/04/20/daniel-hirsch-on-ccsts-fuzzy-math/

7. WIRELESS SMART METERS – CANCER, NERVOUS SYSTEM DAMAGE, ADVERSE REPRODUCTION AFFECTS.
Video Interview: Dr. Carpenter, New York Public Health Department, Dean of Public Health, (2 minutes)
http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=3946

9. RADIATION MEASURED FROM SMART METER MOUNTED ON A HOME SHOWS RADIATION TRANSMISSION PULSES APPROXIMATELY ONCE EVERY FOUR SECONDS 24 HOURS PER DAY traveling through the bodies and brains of the inhabitants of that home.
Youtube Video (6 minutes, 1st minute is sufficient)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRejDxBE6OE

NOTE: many of the tests on non-ionizing radiation (the type of radiation emitted by smart meters) have been done using instruments other than smart meters because smart meters have only been in people’s homes for a very short time.

But as a Wireless smart meter emits 100 times more radiation than a cell phone, it is not difficult to project. If a machine gun (smart meter) fires 100 bullets in the same time that a pistol (cell phone) fires one bullet, it is not difficult to project the harm that the machine gun can inflict, even if the tests were done with the pistol.

NATIONAL SECURITY RISKS DUE TO SMART METERS.

12. CIA Director James Woolsey calls Smart grid “Stupid” due to National Security problems caused by so-called smart meters.
News Video (1 minute)
http://www.energynow.com/video/2011/08/10/preview-mix-james-woolsey

October 24 2011 at 2:26 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
majbjb

Here's a hot stock tip. Don't buy stocks unless your an idiot. Put the money in your mattress or buy gold or silver. Anyone wanting you to buy stocks are just angling for a commission and/or to prop up a stock they have some fiduciary interest or investment in. Stocks are still going down and extremely volatile. Just read the daily newspaper to figure this out.

October 23 2011 at 11:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
erink91321

Now is Not the time to bet your wages on Stocks. The rise in the marlets will not last as this is Not a bull run but a minor blip that was expected. The Bulls are still dead and will be for quite sometime

October 23 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Setanta

INVEST IN THE USA by getting obama out of the office of the president and by sending this message to the GOP--no more RINOs.

October 23 2011 at 9:16 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Richard

Best investment is stock in security companies. When the class warfare starts really brewing, the rich will need protection. Another excellent investment is precious metals - GUNS AND BULLETS.

October 23 2011 at 6:12 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Richard's comment
Setanta

rich are already protected, so secure your windows and doors the best way you can and keep shopping for canned goods you will eat / roate the stock etc.best investment you can do for yourself and your family.

October 23 2011 at 9:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
muenft

I am locking and loading one 30 round magazine as we speak

October 24 2011 at 9:26 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
kenjoanp

Pepsico stock has done very poorly this year. A rising tide is supposed to raise all ships, but the latest upturn in the
market has hardly moved Pepsico. There must be an inherent reason the stock is doing so poorly this year, while
other large company stocks are increasing regardless of the economy. In most cases that means the market has no
faith in the leadership of the company. Managers, and management in general, are not necessarily leaders. It looks
like Pepsico needs better leadership.

October 23 2011 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kenjoanp's comment
evd10

"There must be an inherent reason the stock is doing so poorly this year"...Who knows what drives investor sentiment.

October 23 2011 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krazzicraig

For 40 years I have been buying stocks. I have never used any wall street firm . You can buy stocks in most companies using a transfer agent . These agents work for the companies . There are no fees . You can start with a small amount of funds . Why pay a broker for something that can be done for free. If anyone is looking to invest long term , this is the best method .Just do a little research . I started by ask a store clerk with items always solded out. Wall street is no place for folks that are not able to spend all day paying close attention to what the market is doing. Wall street is more about manipulation then investing .

October 23 2011 at 9:46 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Ange Purs

Pepsico is a good company with a great balance sheet. It isnt a bad investment for the longer term. Its current dividend as around 3.25% (based on current share price). Pepsico has raised its annual dividend every year for almost 40 years. What's not to like about this company? But is it the best you can do and should do? How about a protfolio that includes Verizon the top mobile phone co in the US? It is as solid as Pepsico, and its dividend is well north of 5%. So why not include VZ in your "new investors" portfolio? Lastly, new investors ought not to "play" the gold or silver markets. Current prices are being driven up strictly by speculation and hyped up retail (nervous investor, herd mentality) demand. You dont need a precious metals hedge unless you are nimble and move in and out of these markets when necessary. Junk bond funds (JAHYX, PHYDX)) are paying around 7.5%. The bond markets are going to be stable for a while going forward.

October 22 2011 at 4:59 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply