The Food sector provides fertile ground for finding investment candidates.
Today we continue our tour of the sectors of the FTSE. As we have seen so far, some sectors contain very few companies, while others have dozens. Next in the list are two related sectors, each with very few constituents -- Food & Drug Retailers and Food Producers -- and we will examine them together.
The list below includes all of the companies in both sectors, from the main FTSE listing and the AIM-100, with a market capitalisation of more than the usual Motley Fool cut-off of £50m.
|Unilever (LSE: ULVR)||FTSE-100||54,327||39,823||Dec 2009|
|Tesco (LSE: TSCO)||FTSE-100||31,193||56,910||Feb 2010|
|Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF)||FTSE-100||7,287||9,255||Sep 2009|
|Morrison (WM) (LSE: MRW)||FTSE-100||6,832||15,410||Jan 2010|
|Sainsbury (J) (LSE: SBRY)||FTSE-100||5,836||19,964||Mar 2010|
|Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE)||FTSE-250||1,941||3,553||Mar 2009|
|Booker Group (LSE: BOK)||FTSE-250||601||3,387||Mar 2010|
|Premier Foods (LSE: PFD)||FTSE-250||517||2,661||Dec 2009|
|Dairy Crest (LSE: DCG)||FTSE-250||480||1,630||Mar 2010|
|Greggs (LSE: GRG)||FTSE-250||472||658||Jan 2010|
|Purecircle (LSE: PURE)||AIM||412||38||Jun 2009|
|Cranswick (LSE: CWK)||FTSE-250||391||740||Mar 2010|
|Asian Citrus (LSE: ACHL)||AIM||371||59||Jun 2009|
|Robert Wiseman (LSE: RWD)||FTSE-250||341||886||Apr 2010|
|Devro (LSE: DVO)||All Share||281||220||Dec 2009|
|Northern Foods (LSE: NFDS)||All Share||230||975||Mar 2009|
|Anglo-Eastern Plantations (LSE: AEP)||All Share||196||150||Dec 2009|
|M P Evans (LSE: MPE)||AIM||175||18||Dec 2009|
|Hilton Food (LSE: HFG)||All Share||174||826||Jan 2010|
|REA Holdings (LSE: RE)||All Share||170||51||Dec 2009|
|Total Produce (LSE: TOT)||AIM-100||113||2,186||Dec 2009|
|Fyffes (LSE: FFY)||AIM-100||107||607||Dec 2008|
|Thorntons (LSE: THT)||All Share||59||215||Jun 2009|
Heading the list we have one of the UK's real heavyweights, Unilever (LSE: ULVR). Founded by the Lever Brothers with their famous Sunlight Soap, Unilever is now responsible for a large number of the UK's retail brands, including many food products -- in fact, it has sometimes been suggested that it would be impossible to do a week's shopping without buying at least one Unilever brand.
Unilever's food brands include Flora, Bertolli, Knorr, Carte d'Or, Magnum, Cornetto, Lipton, Slim-Fast, Hellmann's, with non-food brands including Cif, Domestos, Dove, Axe and, of course, Sunlight. Having modest debt, and paying a dividend of around 4%, Unilever has been long considered a reliable blue-chip share.
The UK's three big supermarkets, Tesco (LSE: TSCO), Morrison (LSE: MRW), and Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY), are up there in this sector, with Tesco being by far the largest of the three. Tesco is another reliable dividend-payer, but one that also has a great track record of growth, both thorough international takeovers and through expansion into new sectors, like banking.
Associated British Foods (LSE: ABF) is a company that we don't really hear about on the high street, but it is actually a quite diversified group of companies, owning Allied Bakeries, Allied Mills, British Sugar Group, Silver Spoon, Twinings, Jordans Ryvita, and even Primark. ABF only pays a dividend of around 2.6%, but has a history of steadily increasing turnover and profits.
Picking a few of the smaller ones, we find companies like Asian Citrus (LSE: ACHL), which grows and sells oranges in China, and Fyffes (LSE: FFY), most commonly associated with bananas but which actually imports all kinds of fruit (and is, in fact, the world's oldest fruit brand).
And then there are a couple of dairy producers in the list, Dairy Crest (LSE: DCG) and Robert Wiseman (LSE: RWD), both of whom recently came under the analytical eye of Malcolm Wheatley.
Greggs (LSE: GRG) the bakery chain is there too, a company that has done a nice job of growing earnings and dividends in recent years, while staying free of debt -- it actually regularly records net cash at the end of each year.
So, there's a more interesting choice in these two combined sectors than most people probably realise, and its definitely one worth trawling in the search for bargains.
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