The Coca-Cola Company: An Earnings Preview

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

Earnings expectations
The first issue that must be addressed is whether the cola giant met Wall Street's expectations. Analysts tack earnings for Coke at $0.46 per share this quarter. Coca-Cola booked earnings per share of $0.41 in the same quarter last year, so the company expects an improvement in profit growth. The company reported approximately $11.5 billion in sales for the fourth quarter of last year and $48 billion for the full-year 2012.

Revenue growth
Coke's third-quarter revenue fell 3%; the company attributed part of the decline to a deconsolidation of bottling operations in the Philippines and Brazil. Yet Coke recouped that on the bottom line, where it saw a 6% increase in net income. Global sales volume rose 2% for the quarter. 

Carbonated soft drink sales in the U.S. have fizzled out in the past decade, with both Coca-Cola and rival PepsiCo feeling the negative effects. As consumers become increasingly conscious about nutrition and calories, the noncarbonated beverage segment shows significant growth potential. Both companies have beefed up their offerings. Coca-Cola added Dasani water, Minute Maid, PowerAde, and Honest Tea to its noncarbonated beverage portfolio in recent years, while PepsiCo holds Aquafina, Naked Juice, and Tropicana brands in this segment.

Thinking outside the bottle
Coca-Cola recently entered into a global strategic partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. The companies have signed a decade-long agreement to develop and roll out Coke's portfolio of products for use in Green Mountain's upcoming Keurig Cold at-home beverage system.

It's unclear if these machines will boost at-home consumption of Coke products, but similar sales of coffee have increased in a somewhat meaningful way. Coke feels this is an opportunity to grow overall soft drink, tea, and juice sales, and the partnership serves as an example of management's willingness to think outside the bottle for innovative ways to boost sales.

Foolish takeaway
When Coca-Cola releases earnings on Tuesday, I'll be watching to see exactly if and how the cola maker achieved fourth-quarter and full-year earnings and sales growth. I'll also be looking for details from Coke surrounding its new partnership with Green Mountain and any indications as to future sales forecasts expected from the venture.

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