Coke Stock: An Earnings Preview

Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) is set to report earnings before the market opens on Tuesday. Here's what you need to watch for in the company's results.

Meeting expectations
The first issue that must be addressed is whether the cola giant met Wall Street's expectations. Analysts tack earnings for Coke at $0.63 per share this quarter. Coca-Cola booked earnings per share of $1.21 in the same quarter last year, so the company is expecting a decline in profit growth. The company reported approximately $13 billion in sales for the second quarter of last year, and $48 billion for full-year 2012.

Revenue growth in emerging markets
Due to much lower per capita consumption, and rising income levels in emerging markets, Coke is pursuing growth in these relatively untapped areas. Last quarter, Coca-Cola displayed 4% global volume growth led by strong unit case volumes for key emerging markets.

Take a look at how Coke grew Q1 case volumes in several important Asian markets.

Country

Total Case Volume Growth

Coca-Cola Brand Growth

Per Capita Consumption

Thailand

18%

38%

113

China

8%

6%

39

India

8%

30%

14

Source: Coca-Cola Investor Relations. One serving equals an 8-ounce beverage.

In these key growth markets, Coke possesses only a fraction of the market penetration compared to here at home, where U.S. consumers guzzle a massive 401 servings per capita. Yet, collectively, almost nine times as many people inhabit these three Asian nations. As a result, these markets represent some of the last frontiers for cola companies, a main reason that rivals Coke and PepsiCo are spending billions of dollars to gain precious market share.

Low-calorie beverage growth in developed markets
Noncarbonated drinks and bottled water are growing at faster rates than carbonated beverages. And, as consumers in developed markets become more nutrition and calorie conscious, this trend is expected to resume. As a result, Coke is focusing on the growth and promotion of its noncarbonated and low-calorie offerings.

Most recently, the company unveiled a new mid-calorie, stevia-sweetened variety of its flagship brand. Coca-Cola Life, which contains half the calories of regular Coke, was rolled out to consumers in Argentina late last month. A successful launch of Coke's Life product may secure a mouthwatering future for carbonated soft drink volume growth in developed markets.

Foolish takeaway
When Coke releases earnings on Tuesday, I'll be watching to see exactly if and how the cola maker achieved second-quarter sales growth in developed markets. I'll also be looking for Coke's reported case volume growth in key emerging nations like China and India. Watch for these metrics to give a mid-year peek into how the company is performing.

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