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First up today is $16 billion apparel maker
VF Corp.(VFC - Get Report), the company behind a brand portfolio that includes Nautica, Lee, The North Face and now Timberland. While VFC isn't exactly a high yield name (it currently yields 2%), the cost yield for investors has increased considerably in the last few years thanks to price appreciation and consistent dividend hikes. Now this stock looks likely to hike its 72-cent quarterly payout.
VF Corp. has a couple of big advantages in the highly competitive apparel business. For starters, it's got scale; with the ability to operate a single manufacturing and distribution network for a whole portfolio of brands, the firm is able to cut costs and generate deeper margins than it could if it had a smaller footprint.
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At the same time, a very diversified brand portfolio means that if demographics for Vans shoes are struggling, the demographics at Lee could be turning up. That diversification helps to spare VFC from the trend risks of selling clothes.
Financially, VFC is in solid shape, with a reasonable debt load that spiked higher after the firm's $2 billion Timberland acquisition. The firm has been working to pay down that debt in the last year, and it's eliminated close to a half-billion dollars of debt from its balance sheet in the process.
That ability to pay off obligations bodes well, particularly if interest rates start to turn up in the long-term. VFC looks well-positioned for a dividend hike in the next quarter.