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PepsiCo vs Coca-Cola: Which Stock Should You Buy Right Now?

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Soft drinks giants PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP - Free Report) and The Coca-Cola Company (KO - Free Report) are no strangers to the vagaries of the war on sugar. Sales for both beverage giants have remained subdued in recent quarters and the two have vowed to find ways of diversifying their portfolio beyond carbonated soft drinks or CSDs and revamping existing product lines.

Changing demographics and purchasing behaviors make it important for beverage giants to understand and capitalize on main consumer insights that identify growing trends. Health awareness has been prime concern for consumers in recent times and capitalizing on this trend can prove to be beneficial for any beverage company in 2017.

Continuing decline in CSDs and impressive growth in noncarbonated beverages are creating headaches for many established players like PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. (DPS - Free Report) , leading to lower volumes and weak sales. Among CSDs, the cola segment particularly has been facing challenges as consumers are opting for alternatives. Also, potential new taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and growing regulatory pressures are affecting CSD sales.

Despite these challenges, the two cola behemoths are at the top of the food and beverage industry. The bullish Zacks Industry Rank of 34 carried by the Zacks Soft Drinks industry testifies that the industry is in fine fettle. An impressive rank places the industry in the top 13% of the 250+ groups enlisted.

Now, within the industry, despite both companies boasting strong business lines and solid growth prospects, PepsiCo with its Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) looks comparatively better as an investment option than the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) Coca-Cola. Below we will substantiate our reasoning. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Head-to-Head

As we jump into our head-to-head comparison of PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, let’s check out a few key stats from both the companies.

Price Performance

PepsiCo has gained 11.1% so far this year, while Coca-Cola’s shares have increased 9.6%. While both stocks have outperformed the broader market (S&P 500) over the same period, PepsiCo clearly scores over Coca-Cola.



Valuation Metrics

Going by the trailing 12-month Price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple, both stocks are a tad overvalued, as is evident from their P/E ratios compared with the industry. P/E ratios for PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are 23.06 and 24.15, respectively, while the industry’s is 24.78. PepsiCo’s shares look a shade cheaper compared with Coca-Cola.

Return on Equity (ROE)

ROE is a measure of a company’s efficiency in utilizing shareholder’s funds. ROE for the trailing 12 months for PepsiCo and Coca-Cola is 59.7% and 34.5%, respectively. While both stocks have scored above the industry’s level of 2.7%, PepsiCo has an edge here.

Estimate Revisions & Growth Expectations

Over the past 60 days, PepsiCo’s estimates for the current year has edged up 0.4% to $5.15 per share. On the other hand, Coca-Cola’s estimates for the current year have increased 1.1% over the same period to $1.90.

The expected earnings per share growth rate for PepsiCo for the current year stands at 6.3% compared with 0.7% expected decline for Coca-Cola. Also, PepsiCo has an expected long-term earnings growth of 7.4%, higher than Coca-Cola’s 6.2%.

Propelling the earnings forward is the companies’ revenue growth story. Clearly, PepsiCo’s projected sales growth for the current year is 1.4% better than Coca-Cola’s average of 16.2% decline. As such, PepsiCo is a clear winner in terms of earnings as well as revenue growth expectations.

Dividend Yield

Coca-Cola has a slight advantage over PepsiCo in terms of dividend payouts. Dividends are usually, but not always, an indication of solid financial health. Coca-Cola has a current dividend yield of 3.23%, better than PepsiCo's 2.72%.

Final Thoughts

Going by the statistics, PepsiCo certainly has an edge over Coca-Cola in terms of ROE, earnings and revenue growth expectations, price performance and valuation.

PepsiCo surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimates by a higher percentage compared with Coca-Cola in the trailing four quarters. Again, both the companies boast strong brand recognition, focus on product innovation and a huge international presence, which is likely to drive growth, going forward.

Other Key Pick

Apart from PepsiCo, investors interested in the beverage industry may also consider Coca-Cola European Partners Plc (CCE - Free Report) , sporting a Zacks Rank #1.

Coca-Cola European Partners has an expected earnings growth of 17.9% for the current year.

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