3 Stocks I Own, and Why

Austin Smith, The Motley Fool

With an overabundance of stock advice and opinions about this or that equity out there, it can be tough to sort through the noise. Does that talking head really think that ultra-risky turnaround story is a double? If so, how do you know?

To really get a handle on how someone feels about a stock, you've got to go to where the rubber meets the road: his or her portfolio. That's why I'm going to go into some of the stocks I've thrown my conviction behind and bought for myself.

The holdings
First up are beverage titans Coca-Cola (NYS: KO) and PepsiCo (NYS: PEP) . I'll cover these two in tandem because, despite some differences, my reasoning behind each is effectively the same.

You'd think that with soda consumption in a decline in North America, these companies would be the last place to throw your money, but they are much more than just their namesake brands. Though their flagship brands do command a tremendous amount of value, what you're really buying here are less-visible economic moats: distribution systems.

These companies have become so masterful at getting goods from point A to point B that they hold the keys to the beverage kingdom. When smaller beverage companies want to go big-time, it's Coke and PepsiCo's door they go knock on. Despite huge growth, even energy drink maker Monster Beverage (NAS: MNST) has had to sign distribution agreements with both companies in the past. Same story for Starbucks (NAS: SBUX) , which recently announced it'd be using PepsiCo's distribution system for its Tazo tea line.

Because the networks each company has developed are prohibitively expensive for competitors to re-create, I don't see this balance of power changing. Their acquisitions of bottlers in recent years only adds to their position as well. Throw in each company's market-beating almost 3% dividend yield, and you've got two set-and-forget companies for the long haul.

Another more risky but potentially lucrative position of mine is Wells Fargo (NYS: WFC) . Often regarded as the "smallest big bank in America," Wells has a reputation for old-fashioned (read: safe) banking. Its 2008 acquisition of Wachovia brought some less sterling assets in-house, but also gave it a better presence on both coasts. More important, though, this move added to its already large deposit base. Given the bank's historical ability to cross and upsell customers to other products, this gives it a whole new pool of potential revenue to tap. Add in the fact that it still trades for 1.4 times book value, which is historically low for the company, and that it plans to reward shareholders with an increased dividend and share repurchase plan, and I don't see any way this bank won't print money for shareholders in the next few years.

You can add any of these companies to your Watchlist and see how they play out in the long term before deciding if you'd like to take out positions yourself. Just use the links below to get started today. Fool on!

At the time thisarticle was published Austin Smith owns shares of Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Wells Fargo, and PepsiCo. The Fool owns shares of and has created a covered strangle position in Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Monster Beverage, Starbucks, PepsiCo, Wells Fargo, and Coca-Cola. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended writing covered calls on Starbucks and creating a diagonal call position in PepsiCo. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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