Brand doesn't hurt either. The firm's namesake soda enjoys the number-one spot in the soft drink market, with the Coke brand one of the best recognized and most valuable in the world. Emerging markets like China hold the keys to growth for Coca-Cola -- as consumers' wealth increases, the amount of cash that they're willing to spend on luxury food products like soft drinks increases as well. In more mature markets, innovations like the Freestyle fountain machine should help wring some growth out of markets that have remained stagnant.
Financially, this firm is in strong shape, with $28 billion in cash and investments largely offsetting Coke's $32.7 billion debt load. Much of that debt is the result of the firm's acquisition of its U.S. bottling operations -- while pricey, the purchase made sense for Coke. And it still leaves ample room for a dividend hike in the coming quarter.
As the world's largest home improvement retailer, Home Depot (HD) has been enjoying some strong tailwinds in 2012. An improving housing market is leaving consumers feeling the wealth effect, and hiking spending on home improvements, and prompting leaps and bounds in housing starts. Because of that, HD has seen its share price rally by more than 52% year-to-date. Still, investors could be in for more upside at the hands of a dividend hike.With more than 2,250 big box stores spread across the globe, the firm has a reach that enables it to enjoy economies of scale in distribution, purchasing, and marketing. That wasn't always the case, however -- leading up to the Great Recession in 2008, HD overextended itself by opening too many stores and racking up too much debt. Since then, though, the firm has restructured aggressively, and it's now reaping the rewards in the form of huge profitability numbers for a mass retailer. While the vast majority of stores are located in the U.S. and Canada, markets like Mexico have been offering Home Depot stellar growth rates for over a decade now (the firm's foray into China has been less successful). With twin growth engines abroad and with the recovering housing market in the U.S. and Canada, this stock should be able to keep up its trajectory. Right now, HD pays out a 29-cent quarterly dividend for a 1.8% yield. With cash generation looking strong, investors should be on the lookout for a near-term dividend boost in HD.
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