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Organic Growth Prospects Still Fizzy for Coke

Sonia Vora

Sonia Vora: Coca-Cola's full-year results largely met our expectations, with sales of $31.9 billion, adjusted operating margin close to 31%, driven by its bottler refranchising, and adjusted earnings per share of $2.08 all near our estimates. We remain confident that the firm will be able to leverage its brand strength and pricing power, which underscore our wide-moat rating, to drive mid-single-digit organic sales growth over our 10-year forecast. Organic sales for the year grew 5% and included a 2% contribution from price/mix, lifted by the firm's continued focus on higher-value packaging formats. We expect contributions from price/mix to average around 2% over our forecast. 

In North America, price/mix strengthened 2% in the fourth quarter, a significant improvement from the flat-to-negative performance in the prior three quarters, which helped offset the cost pressures that have been weighing on firms across the space. However, unit case volumes fell 1%, due to efforts to improve pricing for sparkling soft drinks, downsize juice packaging, and de-emphasize lower-margin tea products. 

We continue to appreciate Coca-Cola's efforts to innovate within its portfolio and expect new product launches and line extensions to help it adapt to evolving consumer tastes, ensuring its share and pricing power remain intact over the long run.