The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) is a large company to say the least, with 2012 sales of $48 billion and a market capitalization of $177 billion. As a testament to the enormity of what the company has become, I decided that now might be a good time for the Foolish investor to learn some interesting details about the world's largest soft drink provider.
Coca-Cola serves... a lot!
As a large company, it's not hard to imagine that Coca-Cola sells a lot of products every year. However, you might be surprised about how much. According to research, Coca-Cola serves 1.7 billion servings (inclusive of all of its 500 brands across at least 200 countries) every day. Stacked up against the roughly 50 billion servings of beverages globally, this comprises 3.4% of all servings drank.
At 12 fluid oz. per serving, this means that the company serves 20.4 billion fluid oz. per day. This converts to 2.86 trillion calories and 795.6 billion grams of sugar each day. For another perspective, if the company maintains the same output per day in perpetuity, it would make enough servings to fill up Lake Erie in 2,194 years.
Only Coke stands up for what's right
In 1964, after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on addressing racism by using peaceful means, citizens of Atlanta began organizing an interracial celebratory dinner. However, this idea faced criticism from some of the top business professionals in the area.
In response to this lack of support, John Austin, Coke's Chairman and CEO at the time, met with the mayor of the city and top businessmen. In a frank manner, he said, "It is embarrassing for Coca-Cola to be located in a city that refuses to honor its Nobel Prize winner. We are an international business. The Coca-Cola Co. does not need Atlanta. You all need to decide whether Atlanta needs the Coca-Cola Co." Following this short speech, tickets for the event sold out in only two hours, which suggests that maybe we should use the head of Coca-Cola more often for political controversies today.
Loyalty among rivals in the face of thieves
One portrayal of American capitalism is of one company seeking to stab its competitor in the back whenever a chance is given. However, it doesn't appear that this generalization is necessarily true. This point is very strong in the following example involving PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP):
In 2006, three individuals (one of whom was an employee at Coca-Cola) were arrested on charges of stealing and attempting to sell trade secrets. According to one news source, the defendants contacted PepsiCo and offered to sell it documents, as well as a vial of an experimental Coca-Cola drink, for $1.5 million. Instead of taking them up on the offer, PepsiCo notified a Coca-Cola employee of the breach who, in turn, brought in the FBI for a sting operation.
After exchanging $30,000 for the initial evidence, the agent involved offered another $1.5 million for more information, which eventually led to an arrest of all three people. Following the arrest, a representative for PepsiCo said, "We only did what any responsible company would do. Competition can sometimes be fierce, but it also must be fair and legal."
The world of Coca-Cola
Apparently, it wasn't enough for Coca-Cola to take over the beverage industry, because it has now jumped into the world of tourism. In Atlanta there exists the World of Coca-Cola, a museum and exhibition about the company. Included in the exhibit is a variety of original artwork from professional painters like Norman Rockwell, and a vault experience that talks about the company's secret formula.
On top of these experiences, the World of Coca-Cola includes a 42-foot high bottle from Sky Field made of more than 11,000 pieces of authentic Atlanta Braves equipment. Finally, the location has a large fountain machine called Coca-Cola Freestyle that allows visitors to try more than 100 different drink combinations. I don't know about you, but that last point alone is a seller for me!
While it is imperative to understand the fundamentals of a company before investing, it's also very important to understand the history of a company. This is because without understanding where a company has come from, you probably won't have much of an idea about where it's going. Now, with these interesting facts under your belt, you should have a better grasp on Coca-Cola and, possibly, more incentive to analyze it and decide if shares of the company are right for your portfolio.