Is Coke Worth More Than Pepsi?

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Is the Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO) worth more than PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP)? It would appear so, at least based on brand value. The subject is, however, more complicated than just brand valuation. Each brand’s parent company has different challenges, and, first among these are the fall off in the soft drink market in general, particularly in the United States.

Interbrand valued the Coca-Cola brand at $79 billion last year, up 2% from 2012. It set Pepsi’s value at $17.9 billion, up 8%. Wall Street. views the valuations of the parent companies very differently.  Coca-Cola has a market capitalization of $170 billion. PepsiCo’s (NYSE: PEP) is almost $127 billion. PepsiCo’s revenue was $66 billion last year. Coca-Cola’s was $47 billion. A deeper look into the two companies shows the valuation debate gets even more confusing.

Ironically, one of the things investors like about Coca-Cola and Pepsi is that they are trying to get out of the soft drink business, at least to the extent that each does not rely on products the growth of which has ended, and has actually started to fall. Coke claims it has 16 brands which bring in a billion in sales a year, or more. Among these are water brands Dasani and Vitamin Water. Water is supposed to be healthier than soda.  Of course, the challenge with selling water is that so much is available for free.

PepsiCo can claim a better portfolio of brands than Coca-Cola. It owns the premier sport drink — Gatorade — and two widely known snacks — Lay’s and Doritos. It also owns Lipton Tea and Quaker Oats. So,  from a brand diversification standpoint, PepsiCo’s management has apparently been more clever than Coca-Cola’s

Cleverness cannot, however, offset a trend which continue to erode the value of each company. Beverage Digest reports that soda sales in the U.S. dropped to their lowest level in 2013 since 1995, with case sales dropping 3% to 8.9 billion. The sales of diet drinks, which had been a growth mainstay, led the drop. Sales of Diet Pepsi and Diet Coke were each down nearly 7% from 2012. Of course, the U.S. represents less than a third of either company’s sales. However, health concerns about sugar drinks certainly are not worries unique to Americans

By almost any financial measure, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are among the most valuable consumer businesses in the world. However, those values are rapidly eroding.

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