5 Stocks to Quench Your Portfolio's Thirst

MILLBURN, N.J. ( Stockpickr) -- Everyone drinks some sort of beverage, and the huge beverage business continues to grow in the U.S. and internationally. The sector transcends a broad variety of drinks: hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, caffeinated and non-caffeinated, carbonated and flat, flavored or just plain water.

With this in mind, let's take a closer look at my top five beverage stocks.

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Diageo

Diageo ( DEO) is a U.K. distiller, brewer, bottler and distributor of a multitude of alcoholic products sold under recognizable brands such as Johnnie Walker, Bailey's, Smirnoff, Royal Crown, Tanqueray, Jose Cuervo, Seagram's, Guinness and Red Stripe. For its fiscal year ended June 2011, earnings per share, in pound sterling rose 16%. Gross margins rose 70 basis points during that period. In the first half of fiscal 2012, earnings also grew by 16%.

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Compare these results to that of Beam ( BEAM), which grew earnings by 10% in 2011 and is expect to do so again in 2012. Brown Forman ( BF.B), another distiller, is expected to have a more challenging year in 2012, as earnings are expected to decline.

On a valuation basis, Diageo is also the cheapest of all three competitors, selling at 15 times earnings vs. 22 for Brown Forman and 24 for Beam.

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