Food & Beverage

Coca-Cola stock rises as earnings meet estimates and Coke brand boosts sales

Key Points
  • Coca-Cola met Wall Street analysts' expectations for its fourth-quarter earnings.
  • Coke Zero Sugar and smaller cans have boosted Coke's sales in recent quarters, even as soda consumption declines.
  • Coke launched Coke Energy earlier this month in the U.S. and will market its flavored sparkling water line AHA in March.
A man walks past shelves of Coca-Cola bottles and cans at a shopping mall in Lagos, Nigeria November 5, 2019.
Temilade Adelaja | Reuters

Coca-Cola on Thursday reported quarterly revenue that topped analysts' expectations as new products under its namesake brand boosted sales.

Shares of the company, which has a market value of $247 billion, rose 2.7% in morning trading. The stock is up 22% over the last 12 months.

Here's what the company reported compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: 44 cents, adjusted, vs. 44 cents expected
  • Revenue: $9.07 billion vs. $8.89 billion expected

The beverage giant reported fiscal fourth-quarter net income of $2.07 billion, or 47 cents per share, up from $870 million, or 20 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding impairment charges, refranchising gains and other items, Coke earned 44 cents per share, meeting expectations of analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Net sales rose 16% to $9.07 billion, topping expectations of $8.89 billion. New products, such as Coke Plus Coffee and the expansion of Coke Zero Sugar, lifted sales during the quarter and led the namesake brand to its best performance in eight years. As U.S. consumption of soda has fallen, the company has used its Coke brand to create healthier options and branch out into new categories. For example, it launched Coke Energy in the U.S. earlier this month.

Teas from its Fuze brand and coffee also boosted its sales.

Additionally, Coke said it benefited from an extra day in the quarter and more customers buying higher-priced products.

Global organic revenues rose 7% during the quarter. North American unit case volume, which strip out the impact of currency and price hikes, were flat for the quarter.

Volume in its Europe, Middle East and Africa segment climbed 4%, driven by growth in Nigeria, North Africa, Turkey and central and eastern Europe. In Latin America, unit case volume increased by 3%, helped by acquisitions in Central America.

Despite weaker sales in China, the company's Asia Pacific business saw its unit case volume rise 2%.

CEO James Quincey said that it is "way too early" to tell the short-term impact of the Wuhan coronavirus on Coke's Chinese business, which accounts for about 10% of its global volume but less of its profits and revenue.

The company has closed offices and a number of its factories in response to the virus outbreak. Coke, working with the Chinese government, is reopening some of its manufacturing plants so it can continue to make its beverages for the Chinese population.

In 2020, Coke estimates organic revenue will grow by 5% and adjusted earnings per share will increase by 7% to $2.25. Its earnings outlook falls 1 cent below average analysts' estimates of $2.26 a share for fiscal 2020.

The new year will also bring the launch of Coke's new flavored sparkling water line AHA in March. Quincey said in December that the company waited too long to follow the trend.

Read the full press release here.

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