Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) will report second-quarter results on Wednesday, July 21. The company suffered a pullback in revenue in 2020 as the pandemic caused folks to stay at home more often.
That hurt Coca-Cola because it derives a majority of its sales from away-from-home channels such as restaurants, movie theaters, sports stadiums, and theme parks. Fortunately, several billion doses of vaccines against the coronavirus have been administered, giving folks the confidence to go out more often. The reversal of the stay-at-home trend should help Coca-Cola drive revenue growth in 2021.
Vaccines are allowing economies to reopen
Importantly, economic reopenings are not on equal footing worldwide. Wealthier nations that had earlier access to vaccines are reopening faster. In contrast, developing countries are still going through phases of lockdowns and limited mobility. It's becoming apparent the bounce back from the pandemic will be like raising a dimmer instead of flipping a switch.
On Coca-Cola's first-quarter conference call, CEO James Quincy talked about the company's plans as potential consumers start going out. "We continue to see ongoing strength in at-home channels offset by away-from-home trends, which have improved sequentially but remain pressured relative to pre-pandemic levels," he said.
Coca-Cola has spent decades developing exclusive relationships with restaurant chains and entertainment venue operators. That work has earned it a larger market share in away-from-home channels compared to at-home. Unfortunately, consumers have been staying home more often.
However, two of its key markets, the U.S. and Europe, have had success in driving down the spread of COVID-19 enough to remove a large number of restrictions on what people can do. The trend is likely to have helped Coca-Cola in the second quarter and will keep providing benefits as vaccination campaigns continue worldwide.
What this could mean for investors
Analysts on Wall Street expect Coca-Cola to report revenue of $9.25 billion and earnings per share of $0.55, which would be increases of 28.9% and 30.9%, respectively, from the year before. It appears as though the positive effects from economic reopenings will not be a surprise. If the company does achieve revenue estimates, it would be far ahead of the high single-digit percentage revenue growth forecast by management for 2021. That raises the probability of management raising its yearly revenue growth outlook when it reports second-quarter earnings.
Still, the enthusiasm is not yet reflected in the stock. Shares of Coca-Cola are flat year-to-date despite developments favorable to revenue and profits throughout the year.
Keep in mind, though, that world economies are far from returning to pre-pandemic levels of activity. Moreover, many smaller restaurants did not have the capital to survive the sustained losses in revenue during the pandemic. And only a few companies have asked workers to return to offices. World economies will likely look a lot different in the aftermath of the pandemic. That could partly be what's making investors pause on Coca-Cola stock.