Coca-Cola bubbles higher
Strong revenue growth was driven by higher prices and rise in volumes.
Fourth-quarter sales increased by 5% to $11.04 billion, supported by higher prices and a 3% rise in volume, the company announced Tuesday. Profit fell 71% to $1.66 billion from $5.77 billion, mostly due to a one-time gain associated with the acquisition of bottling operations in 2010. However, excluding special items, profit rose 10% to 79 cents per share from 72 cents a year earlier.
Coca-Cola currently competes PepsiCo (PEP), Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) and other domestic players.
We estimate a $75 price for Coca-Cola, which is about 10% higher than the market price. We are in the process of revising our estimates to incorporate fourth-quarter earnings.
The company's namesake brand, Coca-Cola, saw a 3% increase in volume in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. Volume was driven by a 33% rise in Thailand, 15% in India, 13% in China, 12% in Argentina, 9% in Germany and 8% in Russia, 4% in both Mexico and France, and 3% in Japan. The volume growth corroborates the brand's stranglehold in the international carbonated soft-drink market.
What is particularly encouraging to see is that the brand managed a 1% volume increase in the North American region, a market which is declining in size.
Still beverages show strength
The North American still beverage volume grew by 3% in the quarter whereas international still beverage volume jumped 7%. Minute Maid continued its impressive growth as volume surged 20% in 2011, helped partly by its launch in the African countries of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda last year. As per our estimates, Minute Maid has a 14% market share in the international juice market, and we expect the figure to continue to rise, albeit gradually, in the coming years.
Energy drink volume rose 19% primarily due to broader distribution of the Burn energy brand. Similarly, water volume grew 7%. The company also unveiled its cost-cutting program to reduce $650 million in expenses by 2015. The money saved can be used to spend on more fruitful areas, such as advertising as in the beverage industry. There is often a strong correlation between advertising budget and sales.
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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