One of the safest income streams on the market today

From Marc Lichtenfeld, Editor, Wealthy Retirement:

If you walk into any party in America, you’ll likely find bags of Tostitos or Lay’s chips and 2-liter bottles of soda, like Pepsi.

If there are any Doritos at the party, I will eat them.

All of them. I can’t stop.

Think of the Cookie Monster… but with better verbal skills.

But it’s not just me. Doritos are the top-ranked chip brand in the U.S. Last year, Americans spent more than $2.5 billion on Doritos.

There’s a lot of money to be made in chips and soda.

And over the past 12 months, PepsiCo (PEP), which owns the Doritos brand, generated $7.9 billion in free cash flow.

During that time, it paid shareholders $4.1 billion in dividends for a payout ratio of 52%. Payout ratio is the ratio of cash flow (or earnings) to dividends paid to shareholders. It’s calculated by dividing the dividends by free cash flow.

Many people on Wall Street use earnings instead of cash flow to calculate payout ratio, but cash flow is more accurate. Earnings include all kinds of noncash items like depreciation and amortization. Those expenses have no effect on whether a company can pay its dividend.

I’m concerned only with how much cash is coming into the company – and that’s what cash flow represents.

Pepsi has raised its dividend every year since 1972. A 44-year track record of annual dividend raises is one of the longest ones you’ll find.

Times have certainly changed over the past few decades.

Since the Emmy Awards aired last Sunday, let’s put this into perspective by looking back at the Emmy winners from 1972…

All in the Family won “Outstanding Comedy Series” while Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton took home trophies for their roles as the iconic Archie and Edith Bunker.

Other winners included The Carol Burnett Show, The Dick Cavett Show and Peter Falk in Columbo.

That was a long time ago. Yet through the Watergate scandal and gas lines in the 1970s, market crashes in the ’80s and ’90s, and 9/11 and the Great Recession during the 2000s, Pepsi raised its dividend every single year.

That’s an impressive track record.

My only concern is that PepsiCo’s free cash flow is projected to decline 3% this year. If that’s the start of a new trend that lasts a few years, we’ll need to take a closer look.

But with a 44-year track record of annual dividend raises – and the fact that it uses only about 50% of its cash flow to pay dividends – there’s absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to Pepsi’s dividend.

In fact, the only safer bet is an empty Doritos bag… if I’m around.

Dividend Safety Rating: A

Good investing,

Marc

Crux note: It’s becoming nearly impossible to find reliable – and growing – income streams in today’s zero-percent world. That’s why Marc created Safety Net Pro. Using Marc’s proprietary dividend safety metrics, like cash flow, you can access on-demand safety ratings on 1,000 dividend stocks, plus monthly commentary on dividend trends… all for $5. Get the details right here.

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