3 Highlights From The Coca-Cola Company's Earnings Report

As first-quarter results show, Coca-Cola still boasts plenty of attractive growth opportunities.

Apr 15, 2014 at 7:05PM

Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) reported earnings before the opening bell on Tuesday. Here's what you need to know about the company's results.

Quarterly recap
The cola giant delivered earnings of $0.44 per share for the first quarter, which was in line with Wall Street expectations. Even though revenue fell 4%, it still beat estimates. Coke attributed part of the decline to currency headwinds. Global sales volume rose 2% for the three-month period, signaling growth for the company. Coke shares traded up nearly 4% Tuesday afternoon after the company issued its results.

Rival PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) is scheduled to unveil its quarterly results later this week. Given the same currency headwinds, macroeconomic volatility, and trend of decreasing carbonated soft-drink consumption, PepsiCo posted an impressive full-year 2013, attributed mostly to its strength in snacks. Snack food sales increased 3% year over year, while beverages grew 1%. Thursday's earnings release will give us an indication as to how 2014 is starting for the beverage and snack-food giant.

Worldwide diversification carries Coke
Coca-Cola's geographic diversification prevents it from being too dependent on any one region for revenue. When Coke feels volume declines in some regions, it often simultaneously enjoys volume gains in other parts of the world. For example, even though consumption was flat in North America, emerging markets such as China and Brazil experienced solid volume growth in the first quarter.

Being one of the world's most diversified companies is a big advantage for Coca-Cola, but it comes with challenges. As in the third and fourth quarters of 2013, the company was negatively affected by currency fluctuations during the most recent quarter. But this is a dynamic that all global companies face. While Coke's brands dominate many parts of the world, one big hurdle going forward is that the company must succeed in regional markets, too.

Innovative ways to jolt sales
Domestic soft-drink sales have steadily declined for more than a decade. More recently, Coke and Pepsi have seen diet soda sales under pressure. But both companies' noncarbonated beverages continue to see a boost. For the first quarter, Coca-Cola grew its worldwide noncarbonated beverage volume by 8%, while its sparkling beverage volume declined 1%. 

To jolt sales of its entire product lineup, Coca-Cola is exploring creative alternatives, particularly its recent strategic partnership with Keurig Green Mountain. The companies have signed a decade-long agreement to develop and roll out Coke's global 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 the company feels this is an opportunity to grow overall soft drink, juice, and tea consumption. 

Foolish takeaway
As the first-quarter results show, Coca-Cola still boasts plenty of attractive long-term growth opportunities. For the patient investor, Coke remains an appealing company that holds a great deal of promise.

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Nicole Seghetti owns shares of PepsiCo. Follow her on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola, Keurig Green Mountain, and PepsiCo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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