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Ahead of Wall Street

Friday, December 9, 2016

Ahead of the bell this morning we learned the CEO for Coca-Cola KO, Muhtar Kent, will be stepping down after 8 years. He’ll be replaced by Coca-Cola’s current President, 51-year-old James Quincey. The changing of leadership is scheduled to take place May 1, 2017.

Coca-Cola has had its issues in the market recently — since the surprise Trump victory for President of the U.S., multi-national corporations have been rotated out of in favor of domestic-oriented small caps, which don’t have the same risk factors in terms of trade tariffs, etc. — but shares are up nearly 1% on this news in the pre-market. It’s a sudden announcement, but one which looks contained by the company’s board of directors.

Muhtar Kent’s tenure existed over the time period that matches the aftermath of the Great Recession. As such, we’ve seen shares of $21 ramp up over time to just below $41 as of yesterday’s close; in other words, we’ve seen a nearly 100% gain at the time of Kent’s announcement to step down from the head of the firm. The company routinely beats earnings estimates, at least for the past several quarters, though modestly on average.

Year-over-year growth estimates are negative for this quarter, next, and the coming fiscal years 2016 and 2017. This may require the new CEO, Quincey, to look to acquire companies with synergies to the main brand. This would more closely follow what Pepsico PEP has been involved with over the past few years.

We are seeing modestly positive opens ahead of today’s bell; the Trump rally seems to have little in its way at this point. Analysts don’t seem to think we’ve gone toward too much too soon, although Zacks' John Blank’s most recent strategy takes this possibility into account: Look At That Froth!

Mark Vickery
Senior Editor

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