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By Mike Caggeso
International sales drove fourth-quarter earnings for Coca-Cola Co. (KO), the world's biggest soft-drink producer, which posted a 79% rise in net income to $1.21 billion, or 52 cents a share, and a 26% increase in net operating revenues for the quarter.
For the year, worldwide unit case volume was up 6%, or 1.2 billion additional cases. Full year earnings per share increased 19% to $2.57. And net operating revenues increased 20% on the year, 4% of which came from currency benefits.
"Importantly, this growth was balanced across our geographies and portfolio of brands,", Coca-Cola's chairman and chief executive officer, .
Indeed, the company posted net revenue growth in every geographic market:
- Africa: 25% in the quarter, 16% for the year.
- Eurasia: 34% in the quarter, 24% for the year.
- European Union: 15% in the quarter, 14% for the year.
- Latin America: 24% in the quarter, 24% for the year.
- North America: 13% in the quarter, 11% for the year.
- Pacific: 7% in the quarter, 7% for the year.
The company also announced that it plans to repurchase $1.5 billion to $2 billion of its stock in 2008. Last year, it bought $1.75 billion of its stock and paid $3.1 billion in dividends to shareholders.
And that's not the only reason shareholders were happy in 2007. For as tumultuous as last year was for most investors, Coca-Cola shareholders were treated to a 26.3% gain, or $12.79 rise, in the company's stock, far-and-away better than the 3.5% total annual gain of the S&P 500 Index.
Cola-Cola is one of the so-called "Global Titans," companies that combine the safety of the U.S. financial system [with its transparency, regulatory oversight and detailed financial reporting], with the long-term growth promise of emerging Asia and Europe. For that reason, Coca Cola and firms such as MGM Mirage (MGM), Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM), General Electric Co. (GE), The Boeing Co. (BA) and rival beverage maker PepsiCo Inc. (PEP) are "best-of-both-worlds" investment.
With sales in North America markets slowing, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have taken their rivalry to emerging markets, where the wallets and taste buds of new and growing middle classes are directly targeted.
Specifically, the craze over the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing has taken the rivalry to a new level.
For example, as part of its big Olympics marketing push, PepsiCo adopted the country's national color in creating a red-themed can for sale exclusively in China.
News and Related Story Links:
- Coca-Cola Co.:
- Money Morning:
Pepsi 'Goes Red' in China