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Coca-Cola Results Show a Tale of 2 Businesses

By Howard Smith – Oct 22, 2020 at 10:50AM

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Strong at-home sales continue to be offset by a slow return to restaurants, theaters, and stadiums.

Beverage giant Coca-Cola (KO -0.53%) reported third-quarter earnings today showing that the business is still struggling from the impacts of the pandemic. While earnings and revenue beat analyst expectations, organic sales (which exclude currency impacts, acquisitions, or divestitures) still declined 6% as the company's away-from-home business continues to struggle. 

In comparison, rival PepsiCo (PEP -0.35%) said in its earnings report earlier this month that it saw 4% organic revenue growth. And while Pepsi's snack and food business helped drive that growth, it also said its beverage business experienced 3% organic revenue growth. 

Cola being poured out of a plastic bottle into a glass

Image source: Getty Images.

Coca-Cola did say that it's seeing positive trends versus the previous quarter, when it reported that organic revenue dropped 26%. However, it is losing market share to rival Pepsi as the away-from-home market, where Coca-Cola said it has a "strong share position," only slowly recovers from pandemic closures and restrictions. 

As restaurants, bars, stadiums, and theaters begin to open in some areas, the company said it is seeing continued improvement in unit case (equivalent to 24 8-ounce bottles) volume. It said October percentage declines month to date improved to "low single digits." Sales in the at-home market remain at elevated levels as consumers continue to work from home and stay home more in general than prior to the pandemic. 

The company is continuing a strategy to narrow its broad range of products with plans to reduce the number brands by approximately 50%, down to about 200. In its statement, it said it is seeking "a portfolio with an optimal set of global, regional and local brands with the strongest potential to grow their consumer bases."

Howard Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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