Coca-Cola Revenue Disappoints, Drags Blue-Chips Lower

Joe Goldman  |

Coca-Cola (KO) reported earnings Tuesday morning, meeting analysts’ earnings expectations but disappointing investors with weak sales on decreasing soda demand. The driving factors behind the sales slump, however, remain widely disputed.

Coca-Cola reported net income of $2.68 billion, or $0.59 per share, versus the $2.79 billion, or $0.61 per share, from the same period a year ago. Revenue for the quarter declined three percent from a year earlier to  $12.75 billion. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.63 per share on revenues of $12.96 billion.

Excluding special restructuring items, Coca-Cola’s earned $0.63 per share, in line with the average analyst estimate. However, CEO Gary Fayard was dissatisfied with the quarter, accrediting a weak global economy and poor weather for the disappointing sales numbers. 

CEO Gary Fayard told CNBC, “it was a disappointing quarter in terms of our volume. We had always said that along the road there would be a bump here or there. We didn’t expect the world to have a bump and the whole industry to slow down.” Fayard said that Europe remains especially fragile and China consumer spending has slowed down “across the board.” This weak global environment, he said, was the major hindrance for the quarter.

With so much weakness abroad, most analysts were expecting Coca-Cola to deliver at least semi-strong U.S. sales, but the company disappointed domestically as well. Soda sales volume, which makes up 60 percent of total sales, fell four percent for the quarter. Fayard cited cold and wet weather for the shortcoming, claiming that consumers drink less soda during strong winter conditions.

However, some news outlets believe that Americans are simply becoming more health conscious. According to The Los Angeles Times, the average American consumed 42.4 gallons of soda in 2012, down from 50 gallons in 2005. Thanks to growing coffee, tea, and juice sales, the article claims that soda consumption is now at a 26-year low, a trend that can’t be attributed to poor weather.

On the plus side, Coca-Cola continued to capture market share across its portfolio of brands. Thus, Fayard is extremely positive about his company’s third and fourth quarter outlook.

“Ours is a great industry, it’s going to come back…We’ll be back as well. We’re very confident in the second half of the year,” he said.

Coca-Cola stock traded lower on Tuesday dropping 1.3 percent to $40.49 during early-afternoon trading. As a long-time staple in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the company’s earnings dragged the entire index, trading down 65 points.

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