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K) has managed to fare better this year. The $23 billion cereal maker has seen its share price run 13.5% higher in 2013, buoyed by strength in the consumer staples sector. Kellogg owns some of the most attractive names in the convenience food segment - cereal favorites like Special K, Frosted Flakes, and Rice Krispies round out a food portfolio that includes Keebler, Pringles, and Morningstar Farms. As long as Kellogg keeps innovating with new product offerings, it should be able to keep pushing its revenue numbers higher.
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It sounds crazy, but the cereal business is cutthroat. Because Kellogg,
General Mills (
GIS) and store brands have few competitive advantages among them, the brand-name cereal makers have to market harder than most. Kellogg's track record of pumping a huge chunk of sales back into advertising budgets is promising for that reason.
Kellogg does have an advantage in the unique products it innovates -- and through its product diversification. That diversification is especially valuable for a firm such as Kellogg; because the company already has the distribution network and merchandising know-how from its cereal business, adding other foods to its business doesn't stretch the bounds of the firm's core business at all.
Kellogg has a very good track record of returning value to shareholders. It has only skipped a dividend hike in four of the last 50 years, and its current 44-cent quarterly dividend works out to a 2.8% yield. The firm's payout ratio still leaves it with room for a dividend hike in the next quarter.