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The Best Blue Chip?: Colgate-Palmolive Company (CL), The Coca-Cola Company (KO)

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When you look at blue chip companies, there are several names that spring to mind. Companies like The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO), McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE:MCD), and General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) are obvious examples. Peter Lynch used to say he liked to keep some of these companies in his portfolio at all times. He knew that over time the shares would do well, and they provided some protection from downturns in the market. There are two companies that set the standard when it comes to longevity and dividends, Colgate-Palmolive Company (NYSE:CL) and The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG). Both of these companies have been paying dividends for decades, and both have raised their dividends for around 50 years straight. Investors looking to find the best blue chip could hardly go wrong starting with these two.

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO)What’s So Great About These Types Of Companies?
The best part about companies like Colgate-Palmolive is, the fact that their business consists of products that have to be constantly purchased. Whether a customer runs out of toothpaste or dish detergent, these purchases are frequent and predictable. Colgate-Palmolive’s industry is populated with companies like the aforementioned Procter & Gamble, as well as Unilever plc (ADR) (NYSE:UL), and The Clorox Company (NYSE:CLX). Unilever is home to such iconic brands as Dove, Vaseline, and others. Clorox is synonymous with bleach, and has expanded their product lineup into the personal care area with Burt’s Bees. With all of these companies fighting for brand recognition, and the world as their marketplace, they have massive opportunities.

There are two similarities among these companies. They each pay a dividend, and they all tend to be relatively low beta stocks. A stock with a low beta means that the shares aren’t as volatile as the overall market. Since each company pays a yield of at least 2.3%, investors are being rewarded with current income that beats many fixed income instruments as well.

3 Ways Colgate-Palmolive Is The Best
All of Colgate-Palmolive’s competitors have great brands, and their stocks could be attractive. However, many investors will choose only one to add to their portfolio. There are at least three different measures that suggest Colgate-Palmolive could be the best blue chip.

First, Colgate-Palmolive has the highest gross margin of the group. If you are looking for a company to invest in over the long-term, a company with a high gross margin is the way to go. This means the company either has pricing power, is more efficient, or both. Colgate-Palmolive reported a gross margin of 58.4% in the current quarter, which was up from 57.4% last year. Procter & Gamble comes in second with a gross margin of 50.94%, and Unilever and Clorox aren’t in the same league, with margins of just over 42% each.

A high gross margin is nice, but what’s even better is a company with good earnings growth. Colgate-Palmolive is expected to grow earnings faster than their competition, with analysts calling for 10.2% EPS growth over the next few years. By comparison, Clorox and Procter & Gamble are expected to grow at 8.5% and 8.03% respectively. Unilever has a lot of catching up to do, as analysts are calling for just 5.4% growth. Colgate-Palmolive’s management confirmed this growth rate, as they said to expect, “double-digit” earnings growth in 2013.

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