Why Coca-Cola Earnings Are Battering the Stock

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Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2016 results before markets opened Thursday. For the quarter, the soft-drink maker posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.37 on revenues of $9.4 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.38 on revenues of $10.01 billion. Fourth-quarter results also compare to consensus estimates for EPS of $0.37 and $9.13 billion in revenues.

For the full year, Coke reported adjusted EPS of $1.91 and revenues of $41.9 billion, compared with 2015 EPS of $1.67 and revenues of $44.3 billion. Analysts had forecast $1.91 in EPS and revenues of $41.67 billion.

Net income fell 11% for the full year, from $7.35 billion to $6.56 billion, and pretax income slipped 15% from $9.61 billion to $8.14 billion.

Net revenues fell 6% for the quarter and 5% year over year. Currency exchange effects weighed on revenues by 2% in the quarter and 3% for the year.

Full-year cash from operations totaled $8.8 billion, down $1.7 billion compared with 2015. The company attributed the decline to currency exchange rates and refranchising of North American bottling territories and bottling transaction in Europe and Africa.

The company repurchased $3.7 billion in stock during the year and net share repurchases (non-GAAP) totaled $2.3 billion.

In its outlook the company said that 2017 adjusted EPS would decline by 1% to 4% from the 2016 level. Coke expects non-GAAP organic revenue growth of 3%, as well as 7% to 8% revenue growth on a currency neutral basis.

For the first quarter of 2017, expects a 12% to 13% headwind from acquisitions, divestitures and structural items.

CEO Muhtar Kent said:

Strong price/mix stemming from our continued focus on driving revenue and solid performance in our developed markets helped offset persistent macroeconomic pressures in our emerging and developing markets. Our flagship market of North America grew net revenues 8% for the quarter and 4% for the year, outperforming total retail value growth for both the North America nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverage industry and U.S. consumer packaged goods companies.

Analysts have estimated first-quarter EPS of $0.46 and revenues of $8.58 billion. For the full year, analysts currently estimate EPS of $1.97 and revenues of $34.41 billion.

Coke’s outlook is weaker than analysts expected, and while the revenue beats for both the quarter and the year were encouraging, the company’s view of headwinds for the year ahead are less encouraging.

Coca-Cola’s shares traded down about 1.8% in Tuesday’s premarket, at $41.25 in a 52-week range of $39.88 to $47.13. The consensus 12-month price target was $45.09 before this morning’s report.