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Shares of  The Coca-Cola Company (KO - Analyst Report) reached a 52-week high of $41.13 on Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013 ahead of its first quarter 2013 results on Apr 16. The closing price of the cola giant on Apr 9 was $40.71, representing a solid 1-year return of about 16.2% and year-to-date return of about 9.1%. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months stands at approximately 14227K.

Upcoming Results

Coca-Cola is due to report its first-quarter 2013 earnings results before the market opens on Apr 16. 2013 is expected to be a better year for the cola giant. Profits are expected to be driven by improving revenue trends in North America, volume growth of non-carbonated beverages, lower headwinds from currency and commodity costs and cost savings and productivity improvements. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter stands at 45 cents.

Annual Dividend Increase

The stock also gained momentum from the 10% dividend increase announced at the end of February this year. With this, the company has increased its dividend for 51 consecutive years.

The quarterly dividend was increased from 25.5 cents to 28 cents per common share, equivalent to an annual dividend of $1.12 per share, up from $1.02 per share in 2012. The new dividend will yield 3.0% annually. The first quarterly payout was made on Apr 1, 2013, to shareowners of record as of Mar 15, 2013.

Coca Cola boasts a solid cash position, which is being used to return value to shareholders through higher dividends and regular buybacks. In 2012, the company paid $4.6 billion in dividends and $4.5 billion in share repurchases, thus returning $9.1 billion to shareholders.

Last month, archrival, PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP - Analyst Report) reached a 52-week high on Mar 22 amid rumors of its possible merger with food giant, Mondelez International, Inc. (MDLZ - Analyst Report).

Coca-Cola carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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