The Coca-Cola (KO 0.05%) company has had to adjust to changing consumer trends due to the coronavirus pandemic. People are consuming less of the company's beverages and changing where they drink them. If your memory can go back that far, you may recall that buying a Coke costs much more at a Disney park, or a sports stadium, compared to your grocery store.
Coca-Cola reports its fiscal third-quarter earnings on Oct. 16. Here are three things to look out for when it announces the results.
Coca-Cola is hoping to benefit as people start leaving their homes more often
First, investors will want to evaluate total revenue. In its most recent quarter, net revenue for Coca-Cola declined 28% year on year. In a July 21 news release, CEO James Quincy said: "We believe the second quarter will prove to be the most challenging of the year." Indeed, as stay-at-home orders continue to get lifted across geographies (with exceptions), people started to venture out of their homes. It is more likely that you will purchase one of the company's beverages if you are spending time away from home. You may stop at a convenience store when you fill up your car, or perhaps order a drink with your meal at a restaurant.
The next thing people following the stock will want to consider is operating profits. Unsurprisingly, that figure declined 34% in the second quarter. It will be interesting to observe how the company manages costs as revenue rebounds. One specific expense to keep an eye on is advertising. The company reduced ad spending to $370 million in the last quarter, from $1.2 billion the previous year. If revenue rebounds but Coca-Cola manages costs tightly, look for profits to expand.
Finally, shareholders would want to know if consumption of beverages have inflected. For more insight on that, look for the reported unit case volumes. The coronavirus pandemic, and the resulting stay-at-home orders, played a significant role with volumes falling 16% year on year. Now, with people beginning to venture out more often, this metric should improve. That said people are, in general, reducing the number of sugary drinks in their diets, and that does not bode well for the beverage business in the long run. And this means, investors would also want to know if Coca-Cola is pivoting to the snack business, just like rival PepsiCo (PEP 0.24%), a long term trend to watch for.
For the third quarter, analysts are expecting Coca-Cola to report a revenue of $8.34 billion, and earnings per share of $0.46, which would be sizable decreases from $9.5 billion and $0.60 in revenue and diluted EPS, respectively, in the year-ago quarter. In contrast, PepsiCo reported revenue growth of 5.3% on Oct. 1. Not surprisingly, its snack division helped accelerate sales. That said, if Coca-Cola reports earnings above expectations, expect the shares of this consumer goods company to pop.