Kraft Foods Inc., together with its subsidiaries, manufactures and markets packaged food products and grocery products worldwide. The company has consistently raised dividends since it went public in 2001. It was a part of tobacco conglomerate Altria Group (MO), until Kraft was spun off in May 2007.
As a company whose management shared the values of Altria group (MO) to consistently reward shareholders with dividend increases and share buybacks, Kraft (KFT) has attracted the interests of many dividend investors. While it has raised distributions for only seven consecutive years, many investors didn’t see this as a problem, but believed that the company would soon join the ranks of the elite dividend achievers.
Just last week the company announced that it has would leave its current dividend payment of $0.29/share unchanged for the fifth consecutive quarter. In addition to that there were no share repurchases in first quarter 2009, and the company's authorization to repurchase shares expired on March 30, 2009.
The major news about Kraft has been its attempted takeover of Cadbury (CBY). The board of directors of Cadbury has rejected the offer so far, citing the fact that it undervalues the company. Other issues related to this takeover would include competing bidding from rivals Nestle or Hershey (HSY). This could make the acquisition of Cadbury (CBY) pricier than initially expected, and Kraft might have to pay top dollar if it really wanted to own the British based confectionery company.
Prominent dividend companies which are typically engaged in mergers and takeovers of a large proportion and which end up overpaying might need a lot of cash fast. Thus freezing or cutting the dividend payment should not be an uncommon factor in such situations.
The deal would definitely be accretive to Kraft and its owners in the long run. If the merger with Cadbury were completed, Kraft Foods would expect to revise its long-term growth targets to 5+% for revenue and 9-11% for earnings per share, from its previously announced 4+% and 7-9% respectively. If it overpays however, those estimates not only might have to be revised downwards, but it would be Kraft’s shareholders that would ultimately pay the price in terms of dividend cuts or freezes.
I was planning on initiating a position in Kraft before the announcement on September 8, but I would wait for the acquisition to unfold before I take any action. The company has four more quarters where it can afford to keep the distributions unchanged. Should it increase them within that time frame and also should it manage to earn approximately $1.95-$2.00/share in 2009, I would consider initiating a small position there. Without any dividend growth, even the best yielding stock would eventually erode your purchasing power due to inflation.
Full Disclosure: None
- Dividends versus Share Buybacks/Stock repurchases
- Altria Group's 6% Dividend Hike
- Should you sell after a dividend freeze?
- Why do I like Dividend Achievers
As we all know, the stock market is at an all time high. That is despite the fact that earnings for the US corporations have been flat for ...
As part of my portfolio monitoring process , I evaluate the list of dividend increases every week. It is helpful to monitor how my investmen...
The ultimate goals of everyone reading this site is to retire wealthy and to stay retired. Financial independence provides flexibility, fre...
Many of you are aware that I have been a big fan of tax-deferred investing over the past three – four years. After my awakening moment in l...
After observing market behavior for 20 years, I have come to the conclusion that many investors do not have a clue about how to make money i...
Right now, many investors are sitting on huge unrealized gains in the companies they have bought years ago. I am in those shoes too. However...
It seems like international investing is all the rage these days. It seems like everywhere I look, someone is recommending investors to add ...
Medtronic plc manufactures and sells device-based medical therapies worldwide. Over the past week, dividend champion Medtronic raised its ...
I do not like it, when my dividend paying companies are acquisition targets. Last week, shares of Hershey (HSY) increased to an all-time ...
General Mills, Inc. (GIS) manufactures and markets branded consumer foods in the United States and internationally. It also supplies branded...