This Share Has Outperformed The FTSE For 11 Years

Published in Company Comment on 24 May 2012

And it's even thrown in a 12% dividend increase for 2012.

My father has always been fond of telling me that if a thing looks too good to be true, it probably is -- but in this case, I think he might be wrong.

This share has outperformed the FTSE 100 solidly for the last 11 years. This year alone, it's up 5.7% while the FTSE 100 is down by 5.5%. Since 2002, its shares have risen by a whopping 320%, while the FTSE has only just managed to break even, with a 1.9% gain.

It is, of course, the world's second-largest brewer, SABMiller (LSE: SAB).

Fancy a beer?

SABMiller's UK brands include Miller Genuine Draft, Peroni Nastro Azzuro and Pilsner Urquell but its growth markets are elsewhere -- and they're growing fast, as this table shows:

Region% Revenue% Organic earnings growth 2011-12
Latin America22.8%14%
Europe17.5%-9%
North America16.7%2%
Africa11.7%16%
Asia Pacific11.2%30%
South Africa18.5%14%

Have another one!

SABMiller is investing heavily in emerging markets and it's paying off. What's more, the statistics suggest there is more to come.

Per capita consumption of beer in SAB's Latin American markets tends to be around 40-50 litres per year. In Europe and Australia, it's around 80, suggesting that as Latin Americans become more affluent, they will consume more beer!

Similar logic should apply in African and Asian markets, where per capita consumption is even lower.

The results

SABMiller has just reported full-year revenues up by 12% to $21.7bn -- with joint ventures contributing a further $10bn in sales.

Underlying operating profit for the year rose by 11.7% to $3.98bn, while profit before tax rose a whopping 54.5% to $5.6bn, thanks to a $1bn cash influx resulting from the sale of SAB's Russian and Ukrainian assets. This was part of a new alliance with Turkish brewer Anadolu Efes, which will be the vehicle for SAB's activities in Turkey, Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East -- collectively, a massive market.

SAB has even given shareholders a cracking 12% dividend increase, taking the total payout for the year to 91 cents (58p) -- a yield of 2.4%. While this isn't income territory, it is pretty acceptable for a share with such strong growth characteristics.

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Pricey earnings

Like that other big UK booze share, Diageo (LSE: DGE), SAB trades on a price-to-earnings ratio of about 17. Although this is higher than the market average, I don't think it is a problem -- this is a growth share, despite its size.

The only downside to SAB's acquisition-fuelled expansion is that net debt shot up by 152% last year, from $7.1bn to $17.9bn. This was thanks to the $10.6bn cash payment that it made as part of its purchase of Fosters. Despite this, the group's debt only accounts for 30% of its £38bn market cap and should be manageable.

Where next?

For me, the icing on the cake is that I don't think you really need to worry about timing the end of SABMiller's growth cycle.

Even if it does happen, the group's huge global footprint and efficiencies of scale should mean that it will continue to be a highly profitable business. I think that as its emerging markets mature, SABMiller will transition into a more generous dividend payer that should remain an attractive fit in most long-term portfolios.

Let me round off by telling you the 'consumer brands' sector is one of three industries reviewed in this free Fool report. I am sure this guide should be of interest to all long-term investors.

He avoided techs in the dotcom bubble and banks in the credit boom. But just where is dividend expert Neil Woodford investing today? All is revealed in this free Motley Fool report -- "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor".

Further investment opportunities:

> Roland does not own any of the shares mentioned in this article.

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