NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sometimes corporations take on low-margin business as a way of getting bigger, but that low-margin business can be a drag on shareholder return and a distraction for management.
In the case of consumer products giants Procter & Gamble (PG) and Kimberly-Clark (KMB) both recently announced they are shedding less-productive business to focus on their core brands, the ones that made these companies household names.
Which will reward you as a shareholder once they've finished shedding those businesses? Using my criteria for dividend investing, it's a dead heat. Both businesses make excellent investments for long-term oriented shareholders seeking rising income.
Brands and Focus
Procter & Gamble, with a market cap of $225 billion, has 23 brands that do over $1 billion in sales, including Always, Bounty, Braun, Charmin, Crest, Dawn, Duracell, Gelette, Olay, Oral-B, Pampers, Pringles, and Tide. Its shares, at around $83, are up 1.7% for the year to date.
Kimberly-Clark, with a market cap of about $40 billion, has five brands that sell over $1 billion per year in sales: Huggies, Kleenex, Kotex, Pull Ups, and Scotts. At $108, its shares are up 3.5% for the year to date.
Procter & Gamble said earlier this month it is going to shed up to 100 brands but so far has not announced which brands they are. However, it is very unlikely it will be any of those bringing the company $1 billion or more a year in sales. PG can stand to benefit from jettisoning its line of Febreeze Candles, for instance, without destroying value.
Kimberley-Clark is not shedding as many brands but has made significant strides to simplify its operations. The company is spinning off its stagnating health care division this year. The new company will be called Halyard Health, and will have about $1.7 billion in annual sales. Kimberley-Clark will receive a cash payment from Halyard Health upon completion of the spinoff and will use the proceeds to repurchase common stock.
Procter & Gamble has the longer dividend history, paying increasing dividends for 58 consecutive years vs. 42 consecutive years for Kimberley Clark. Both companies' long history of consistent dividend increases shows their commitment to rewarding shareholders.
Kimberly-Clark and Procter & Gamble both have dividend yields of 3.1%. They end this category in a draw. Oddly enough, both companies have a payout ratio of 59%. Neither company has an advantage in dividend yield or payout ratio.
Kimberly-Clark has grown revenue per share by 5.3% per year over the last 10 years, vs. only 4% per year for Procter & Gamble. Kimberly-Clark has proven it can grow revenue per share somewhat faster than Procter & Gamble over the last decade.
Both companies have extremely low price standard deviations over the last decade. Once again, Kimberely-Clark has the edge with a standard deviation of 17.5% versus 17.8% for Procter & Gamble.
And the Winner Is...
Kimberly-Clark outranks Procter & Gamble using my eight rules of dividend investing due to its higher growth rate. The company's plan to streamline its operations is clearer than Procter & Gamble's, but Procter & Gamble is taking more severe action. The Procter & Gamble divestiture will likely have more of an impact on shareholders than Kimberley-Clark's health care spinoff.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
TheStreet Ratings team rates PROCTER & GAMBLE CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate PROCTER & GAMBLE CO (PG) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results." You can view the full analysis from the report here: PG Ratings Report