Investors were guzzling good news after soft-drink giant Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) reported second-quarter earnings. For the three months ending in June, the company racked up $1.20 in profit per share, or $1.17 excluding certain items. Wall Street analysts had been looking for earnings per share of $1.16.

Global growth continued to be a major theme for Coca-Cola during the quarter.


Unit Case Volume Growth

Eurasia & Africa 7%
Europe 5%
Latin America 6%
North America 4%
Pacific 7%
Total Company 6%

Source: Coca-Cola.

Despite Coke's seeming ubiquity around the world, Coca-Cola brand beverages posted strong growth in many of the high-growth regions. It was up 17% in Russia, while the Coca-Cola brand drinks drove 23% growth in sparkling beverages in China.

Closer to home, the 4% volume growth in North America was driven entirely by the cross-licensing deal with Dr Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS). Excluding the Dr Pepper brands, North America volume was flat in the second quarter, and sparkling-beverage volume was down 1%. On the bright side, Coke Zero continued its mad charge, posting its 21st consecutive quarter of double-digit volume growth.

Total revenue for the quarter was up 47% -- primarily reflecting the addition of the acquired bottlers -- while the cost of goods jumped 69%. This suggests that the commodity-cost pressures that we've heard so much about are still alive and kicking. The company is working to address this issue through measured price increases, and it expects that by year's end it will have achieved 3% to 4% positive retail pricing in North America.

Meanwhile, fellow soda heavyweight PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) remains, as ever, on Coke's heels. The Wall Street Journal noted that Pepsi just recently launched its first new ad campaign for the Pepsi-Cola brand in three years. This could pressure Coke's already-pressured North America operations.

But how serious are these threats to Coke in the long run? Let's just say I wouldn't lose sleep over them. Commodity prices could continue to take a bite out of the bottom line in the near term, but Coke is the kind of stock that you should buy to own for years, not minutes. And let's remember that Coke just celebrated its 125th anniversary, which means that it managed to make it through the brutal inflation of the '70s and early '80s.

As for Pepsi, that battle will continue to rage on, and I'd argue that the presence of a strong competitor like Pepsi forces Coke to maintain its A-game. Plus, as The Wall Street Journal also noted, part of Pepsi's cola push may be due to Pepsi-Cola's drop to No. 3 last year, behind both Coke and Diet Coke.

A well-priced stock
Coca-Cola is a fantastic company with the opportunity to continue to grow at a steady, moderate pace and reward its shareholders through share buybacks and dividends. Of course, the valuation of Coke's stock largely reflects that reality. Investors buying or holding the stock today should do fine in the years (decades!) ahead, but anyone looking for huge, market-beating returns may want to look elsewhere.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo and creating a diagonal call position in PepsiCo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter at @KoppTheFool or on Facebook. The Fool’s disclosure policy prefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.