Consumer Products

Coca-Cola Makes a Case for Sustainability With Q4 Earnings

Chris Lange

Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) released its fourth-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Friday. The firm said that it had $0.44 in earnings per share (EPS) and $9.1 billion in revenue, while consensus estimates had called for $0.44 per share and $8.89 billion. The same period of last year reportedly had EPS of $0.44 on $7.06 billion in revenue.

During the most recent quarter, net revenues grew 9% and organic revenues grew 7%. Revenue growth was driven by concentrate sales growth of 2% and price/mix growth of 5%.

Unit case volume grew 3%, primarily driven by broad-based growth in developing and emerging markets, along with positive performance in developed markets, Coca-Cola reported as follows:

  • Sparkling soft drinks grew 3% in the quarter, driven by strong growth in China, Brazil and Southeast Asia. For the year, sparkling soft drinks grew 2%, led by strong growth across Asia and Europe. For both the quarter and full year, growth was led by trademark Coca-Cola, with volume growth across all geographic segments.
  • Juice, dairy and plant-based beverages were even in the quarter and for the year, as strong performance by Chi in West Africa and innocent juices in Europe was offset by a decline in Rani in the Middle East. For the quarter, volume performance was under pressure as a result of strategic downsizing of key packages in the China juice portfolio.
  • Water, enhanced water and sports drinks grew 2% in the quarter and 3% for the year, led by Ciel and Cristal in Latin America and strong global growth in the sports drinks portfolio, partially offset by the impact of deprioritization of low-margin water brands in key markets, such as China and Japan.
  • Tea and coffee volume grew 4% in the quarter and 1% for the year, led by strong performance across the company’s portfolio in Japan, Fuze Tea across Western Europe and Leão Fuze Tea in Brazil.

Looking ahead to the 2020 full year, the company expects to see EPS of approximately $2.25 and organic growth in revenues of 5%. Consensus estimates call for $2.26 in EPS and $38.66 billion in revenue for the year.

James Quincey, board chair and chief executive, commented:

We made good progress in 2019 by delivering on our financial commitments and growing in a more sustainable way. We continue to transform the organization to act with a growth mindset, which gives us confidence in our 2020 targets and our ability to create a better shared future for all of our stakeholders.

Shares of Coca-Cola closed Wednesday at $57.01, in a 52-week range of $44.42 to $57.87. The consensus price target is $59.48. Following the announcement, the stock was up over 1% at $57.80 in early trading indications Thursday.