Warren Buffett is auctioning his used Cadillac, a 2006 DTS sedan, with only 20,310 miles on it. It's not like the Oracle of Omaha is short of cash, of course: Proceeds from the auction will be going to charity -- specifically, to Girls of Omaha, an organization dedicated to "Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold."
Warren Buffett fans may naturally feel tempted to own Buffett's used car; however, if you really want to go down the same road as Warren Buffett, buying Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) stock could be a far-smarter purchase.
Coca-Cola is a classic Warren Buffett stock
At current prices, Coca-Cola is the second-largest position in Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) portfolio behind Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), and also one of Warren Buffett's most iconic investments. Buffett first bought Coca-Cola in 1988, and he has no intention of selling anytime soon. In fact, during Coca-Cola's annual shareholder meeting in April of 2013, he was quite clear about his long-term commitment to the company:
We've never sold a share of Coca-Cola stock, and I wouldn't think of selling a share. I'm the kind of guy who likes to bet on sure things. No business has ever failed with happy customers... and you're selling happiness.
Warren Buffett is all about competitive advantages -- or moats, as he likes to call them -- and Coca-Cola enjoys an almost indestructible moat thanks to its extraordinary brand power and gargantuan global-distribution network. Diet Coke overtook PepsiCo's (NYSE:PEP) Pepsi as the second-most-popular soda brand in the U.S. back in 2010, giving Coca-Cola both the first and second market positions in the industry. In total, Coca-Cola owns 20 brands making more than $1 billion each in annual revenues around the globe.
In the words of the Oracle of Omaha himself: "If you gave me $100 million and said: 'Take away the soft-drink leadership of Coca-Cola in the world,' I'd give it back to you and say it can't be done."
Always Coca-Cola's cash flows
Coca-Cola is the market leader in a stable and mature industry, and it's not easy for the company to generate growth. Consumers in developed markets are cutting back on soda consumption because of health considerations, and this is dragging on sales volume to a considerable degree. In this context, global sales volume increased only 2% in 2014.
On the other hand, the company is buffering the decline in U.S. sales volume with strong pricing. In addition, Coca-Cola is betting on a growing portfolio of healthier alternatives such as tea, waters, and sport drinks to jump-start growth. It's important to note that Gold Peak tea, Fuze tea, and I LOHAS mineral water, which is sold in Japan, joined the company's portfolio of billion-dollar brands in 2014, demonstrating that Coca-Cola is rapidly adapting to changing consumer demand around the planet.
According to management, the average household globally consumes 26 beverages per day, and only 1.4 of those are Coca-Cola company brands. This means Coca-Cola still has substantial room to gain market share around the world, both in traditional sodas and healthier alternatives.
One of the main positives of Coca-Cola stock is the company's impeccable trajectory of dividend growth. Coca-Cola has increased its dividends during the last 52 consecutive years, proving that it has what it takes to deliver expanding cash flows through good and bad times. This includes a generous dividend hike of 9% for 2014.
At current prices, Coca-Cola's stock is paying a dividend yield of 2.9%, not bad at all coming from a rock-solid powerhouse in times of historically low interest rates.
The company is a cash flow generating machine; Coca-Cola produced $10.6 billion in operating cash flows, and $8.2 billion in free cash flows during 2014. Dividend payments absorbed only $5.4 billion of that money through the year, so the company has considerable room to continue increasing dividends during the coming years.
Buying Warren Buffett's used Cadillac sounds like a fun idea; however, Coca-Cola stock has what it takes to continue delivering growing dividends and cash flows over the long term. If you want to be more like Warren Buffett, buying Coca-Cola stock could be a much better use of your capital than bidding for Buffett's used vehicle.
Andrés Cardenal owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Andrés also owns a ton of books about Warren Buffett, and this is one of the best investments he has ever made. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, PepsiCo, and Wells Fargo and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.