Pepsi vs. Coke
The community ponders Foolishly

by Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff)

ALEXANDRIA, VA (August 17, 1999) -- Following our initial takes on Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP), community Fools are debating the merits of the cola and snack food kings. So far, the debate appears tied.

I have noticed one trend, however. When Coca-Cola is spoken of favorably, the comments mainly harken back to the company's historical performance. The current funk at Coca-Cola, it is hoped, will pass and the glory days will return. Why? That hasn't been answered in detail. The company's powerful brand and distribution network are most commonly cited as a means to sales rejuvenation. (Of course, international currencies will always play a role.)

Meanwhile, when PepsiCo is discussed, Fools typically proclaim that the company's future looks much brighter now. Why? The KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants have been spun-off, a majority of bottling operations have been sold to the public, and Pepsi's domination of the snack food market is expanding. Plus, the snack food market is witnessing sales growth and Pepsi has pricing power.

So, if you were to invest in one of these companies, which would you buy?

On the boards, Wildscribe may soon decide to invest money in both. Both are admittedly world leaders. Both offer commission-free plans. Both have modest minimum investments. Both could be bought with the same amount of money that would otherwise be invested in just one of the companies each month. Paulsonja is torn between liking both companies, too. The potential disadvantages to owning both stocks are extra recordkeeping and tax work, more legwork to keep abreast with each firm (and Coca-Cola doesn't make this easy to begin with), and the likelihood that one stock will underperform the other.

Likely, but not certain. Kimbo77 doesn't believe that Pepsi's management has what it takes to bring the all-important snack food division to the next level -- sounds like the voice of experience.

Other Fools are keeping the analysis simple. Good advice on the debate arose from ariel7, who reminded us that when choosing between two companies, it often pays to invest in the company with the product that you favor. Although Apple Computer (Nasdaq: AAPL) investors wouldn't have fared too well this decade, this principle often pans out in the long run.

Meanwhile, swallen1 linked to the most humorous story available on Pepsi, from the satire site The Onion.

(By happenstance, the last three Fools' names had numbers in them. That's somewhat curious. We better stop.)

If you haven't perused the Drip Companies message board, be sure to unravel the threads from August 16 to today regarding the Coke vs. Pepsi debate. If you have anything to add, please post your thoughts tonight or tomorrow morning. Coca-Cola has already moved to round two (again -- it did last time, too). Tomorrow we'll decide if PepsiCo should as well.

To close, a final interesting thread was begun on the board yesterday by DavidRay99. (Woah... another number in the name.) David wrote a post titled "Dividends Do Count," and asked the question, Should a Fool invest for a high yield alone? Several Fools, including db4636 (okay, that's it!), TMF Elwood, GinnyW, and a freak named TMF Jeff shared thoughts regarding dividend yields and direct investing. Share your view, too, if you wish.

Until Wednesday the 18th, Fool on!

Drip Portfolio

8/17/99 Closing Numbers
Ticker Company Dly Pr Chg Price

  Day Week Month Year
To Date
DRiP 1.08% .22% 8.48% 14.18% 29.86% 13.55%
S&P 500 1.01% 1.24% 1.16% 9.35% 43.18% 19.07%
S&P 500(DR) .99% 1.22% 1.14% 9.79% 45.80% 20.13%
S&P 500(DCA) n/a n/a n/a n/a 25.31% 11.60%
NASDAQ .98% 1.37% 1.24% 21.82% 70.19% 29.51%

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost/Share Price LT % Val Chg

Trade Date # Shares Ticker Cost Value LT $ Val Ch
  Cash: $24.33  
  Total: $3,591.26  

• S&P 500 (DA) = dividend adjusted. Dividends have been added to the total return of the index.

Drip Port launched with $500 on July 28, 1997, adds $100 to invest every month, and the goal is to own $150,000 in stock by August of the year 2017. Due to the slow nature of dollar-cost-averaging and our relatively significant starting costs, we do not expect to seriously challenge the S&P 500 for the first three to five years as we build an investment base. The long-term advantages of dollar-cost-averaging still overcome the short-term disadvantages, however. Final note: our investment in Campbell Soup is frozen due to fees instituted in its investment plan. Click here for a history of all Drip Port transactions.