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Beam (BEAM) isn't boring, but it is part of another group that's traditionally linked to dividend payouts: the "sin stocks." Sin stocks tend to have sticky, recurring revenues that are less tied to the ebb and flow of the economy -- and they also typically generate bigger net margins than the average. Both of those factors are favorites for income investors.
Beam owns such brands as Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon, Sauza tequila, and Cruzan rum. The firm is a relative newcomer to the public markets as a standalone company, going public last fall as the result of a split-off of Fortune Brands' disparate businesses. While many of the firm's brand names are second-tier, its bourbon portfolio is extremely strong -- and the entrance in to the premium pricing of small-batch bourbons should boost Beam's profitability at the same time it opens the door for small-batch variants of the firm's other spirits. Alcoholic beverage consumers are becoming increasingly discerning, with craftsmanship playing a more important role in buying decisions; Beam's entrepreneurial environment for distillers should help keep the Beam's new products on consumers' shopping lists.
While Beam's balance sheet is quite leveraged, the firm's ability to turn almost all of its income into free cash is a redeeming quality. Beam's 20.5-cent dividend payout only amounts to a 1.45% yield right now, but that payout should increase significantly once the firm stops using as much of its cash to pay down debt.
Meanwhile, management has already shown eagerness to boost the dividend with one raise since going public; while a "high yield" tag may be a while away for BEAM, a more modest increase looks likely in the next quarter.
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-- Written by Jonas Elmerraji in Baltimore.