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Coca-Cola (KO) Q4 Earnings Surpass Estimates, Sales Miss

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The Coca-Cola Company (KO - Free Report) has delivered fourth-quarter 2020 results, wherein earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate and rose year over year.  However, the top line lagged estimates and declined on a year-over-year basis. The company witnessed sequential improvements in volume trends.

Comparable earnings of 47 cents per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 41 cents and improved 6% from the year-ago period. Currency translations negatively impacted earnings by 9%. Comparable currency-neutral earnings per share rose 14%.

Revenues of $8,611 million missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $8,699.3 million and declined 5% year over year. Organic revenues were down 3% from the prior-year quarter. The company’s top line reflected improved trends compared with prior quarters. Also, two additional days in the quarter aided revenue growth.

CocaCola Company The Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise


CocaCola Company The Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

CocaCola Company The price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | CocaCola Company The Quote

During the quarter, concentrate sales remained even but price/mix was down 3%. Moreover, currency headwinds hurt the company’s top line by 2%.

During the quarter, the company’s global value share in total non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages was even. Coca-Cola benefited from underlying share gains in both at-home and away-from-home channels, offset by negative channel mix due to pressures in the away-from-home channel. Notably, the company has a majority share position in the away-from-home channel.

Notably, Coca-Cola’s shares gained 2% in the pre-market trading session, owing to the better-than-expected earnings performance. Overall, the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has declined 7.2% in the past three months compared with the industry’s fall of 1.2%.


Volume and Pricing

Price/mix was down 3%, driven by adverse channel and package mix in key markets due to the coronavirus outbreak. Also, negative mix in the Global Ventures, Asia Pacific, and Europe, Middle East & Africa segments impacted price/mix. Concentrate sales were 3 points ahead of unit case volume, owing to two additional days in the quarter and cycling of Brexit-related inventory reduction in the prior year.

Coca-Cola’s total unit case volume declined 3% in the fourth quarter on declines in all operating segments, owing to pressures in the away-from-home channels due to the coronavirus outbreak. This was partly offset by continued strength in at-home channels. Though the company witnessed strength in the emerging markets, developed markets remained under pressure.

Category Cluster Performance: Sparkling soft drinks’ unit case volume edged down 1% (compared with a 1% decline in the prior quarter), driven by declines in the fountain business in North America and away-from-home channels in Western Europe, partly offset by growth in China, Brazil and Nigeria. The Coca-Cola trademark was up 1%, with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar improving 3%. Volume for juice, dairy and plant-based beverages declined 2% (compared with a 6% fall in the last reported quarter). The category was primarily impacted by a decline in Minute Maid in the fountain business, offset by strong Simply and fairlife performance in North America. Also, softness in the Asia Pacific and Europe, Middle East & Africa operating segments impacted the category.

Water, enhanced water and sports drinks fell 9% (compared with an 11% decline in the third quarter), mainly owing to broad-based declines across operating segments, particularly for the lower-margin water brands. Tea and coffee volume dropped 15% (compared with a 15% decline in the third quarter), owing to the pandemic-led disruptions at the Costa retail stores as well as headwinds in the dogadan tea business in Turkey.

Segmental Details

Revenues declined 4% for North America, 15% for Latin America, 11% for the Asia Pacific, 14% for Europe, Middle East & Africa (“EMEA”), 16% for Bottling Investments, and 22% for Global Ventures segments.

Organic revenues fell 1% in Latin America, 5% in North America, 12% in the Asia Pacific, 13% in EMEA, 23% in Global Ventures segments and 10% in Bottling Investments.


Comparable currency-neutral operating income improved 14% year over year, driven by effective cost-management initiatives across all operations, partly offset by top-line pressures and currency headwinds. Comparable operating margin expanded 250 basis points (bps) to 27.3%. In dollar terms, comparable operating income rose 4.3% to $2,353 million.


Though the uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic remain, the company provided its guidance for 2021.

For 2021, Coca-Cola estimates organic net sales growth in high-single digits. Comparable net revenues are anticipated to be aided by a 2-3% currency tailwind, based on current rates and hedge positions. The company expects an underlying effective tax rate of 19.5% for 2021.

Based on the above assumptions, it expects comparable EPS growth rate of high-single digits to low-double digits, whereas it reported $1.95 in 2020. Comparable EPS guidance includes a favorable currency impact of 3-4%.

Additionally, the company estimates free cash flow of at least $8.5 billion in 2021, with cash flow of at least $10 billion and capital expenditure of $1.5 billion.

Don’t Miss These Better-Ranked Beverage Stocks

Coca-Cola Femsa S.A.B. de C.V. (KOF - Free Report) has a long-term earnings growth rate of 9.6%. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Diageo plc (DEO - Free Report) has a long-term earnings growth rate of 8.3%. The company presently carries a Zacks Rank #2.

Coca-Cola European Partners PLC (CCEP - Free Report) currently carries a Zacks Rank #2. It has a long-term earnings growth rate of 2.3%.

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