There are only a few stocks that investors can truly feel comfortable holding forever.
In order to hold a stock forever, investors must find companies with strong brands and durable competitive advantages. Hormel (HRL) - Get Report -- maker of Spam and Skippy peanut butter --has demonstrated these qualities, with its long track record of consistent results and dividend growth.
Collectively, Hormel's brands are generating strong growth. Last year was a record one for the company. Hormel's sales and earnings-per-share rose 2.8% and 29%, respectively.
More recently, Hormel generated record earnings-per-share in the first quarter.
Looking ahead, Hormel expects to generate 5% annual sales growth through 2020. The key catalysts for this growth will involve organic growth, as well as continuing to acquire and scale new brands.
This is particularly true when it comes to natural and organic foods. For example, in 2015 Hormel acquired Applegate Farms for $775 million. Applegate Farms owns the Applegate brand, which produces natural and organic meats, like deli meat, bacon, and hot dogs. Applegate is the leading seller in this category.
Hormel has made additional moves to capitalize on the emerging health and wellness trend in the U.S. To that end, in 2014 Hormel acquired CytoSport Holdings, which produces the MuscleMilk nutritional supplements line. And, last year Hormel bought Justin's, which makes natural and organic nut-butter based snacks.
These acquisitions should be very beneficial for Hormel because they fit seamlessly into the company's existing portfolio. For instance, Applegate and Justin's perfectly complement Hormel's refrigerated foods and Skippy peanut butter products. This allows Hormel to easily scale these brands after they are acquired, which generates significant cost savings.
Strategic acquisitions, along with organic growth, have produced excellent results for Hormel over the long-term.
Source: 2017 CAGNY Presentation
Hormel shares trade on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 19.5 times, which is slightly below the industry average. There is some potential for Hormel's price-to-earnings ratio to expand, at least to the stock market's multiple of about 26 times, based on its high-quality earnings and strong brands.
Aside from an expanding price-to-earnings ratio, Hormel's future returns will be comprised of earnings growth and dividends.
Thanks to its strong brands and high returns on capital, Hormel is one of the few stocks that dividend growth investors can buy and hold onto forever.
This piece is by an outside contributor. Mr. Reynolds does not own any of the shares mentioned.
Disclosure: I am not long any of the stocks mentioned in this article.