Consumer product giant Colgate-Palmolive (CL - Get Report) is having a fairly flat year in 2012. Shares of the $45 billion toothpaste and pet food maker are only up 1.7% year-to-date, a far cry from the performance that investors have been able to wring out of the broad market.
But in spite of the tepid returns, there's reason to pay attention to this stock right now.Colgate-Palmolive owns some of the biggest household product brands in the business, from namesake Colgate and Palmolive to Softsoap, Speed Stick, and Hill's Science Diet pet food. That diverse group of staples means that the firm is able to attract a sticky customer base that's relatively resistant to pricing headwinds. Massive international diversification means that the firm has exposure to increasing demand overseas; the flip side is that the CL suffers when a strong dollar makes profits earned in other currencies look less appealing. CL is a prototypical blue chip, and it has a balance sheet that reflects that. The firm generates a significant amount of cash -- and pays out a 2.47% dividend yield. That yield increased yesterday thanks to a 6.9% dividend hike. The move pushes CL's quarterly payout to 62 cents per share. Colgate, one of 10 New Dividend Aristocrats for 2012, was also featured recently in " 7 Dividend Stocks Promising Growth and Protection." Follow @stockpickr