Coca-Cola ups guidance after strong second quarter


The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) shares opened higher after the drinks giant reported a strong second-quarter performance and raised its guidance for the full year.

Revenues rose 42% to $10.1bn and organic revenues by 37% as restaurants reopened across most of the globe, while earnings per share were up 48% to $0.61. Underlying EPS, which includes the impact of a five-point currency tailwind, grew 61% to $0.68.

Management’s guidance was upped to organic revenue growth of between 12% and 14% for the full year.

Last year sales of the group’s brands – which include the Costa Coffee chain – in bars and restaurants were much reduced because of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, which put pressure on pricing and profit margins.

After its new Coke Zero Sugar launched in various parts of the world including Japan, Turkey and parts of Europe and saw 15% growth so far this year, it has now been made available in the US.

“New packaging is simplified and celebrates the iconic Coca-Cola logo, beginning with the brand’s universally recognized red. The Coca-Cola logo in black Spencerian script signals the Zero Sugar variety,” the company added.

In December Coca-Cola was ranked as the world’s top plastic polluter, worse that PepsiCo and Nestle combined, and with that other duo accused of making “zero progress” on reducing plastic waste.

Coke announced earlier this year that it plans to use 100% recycled plastic in all its ‘on the go’ bottles across its brands in the UK from September, with all locally manufactured packages in Belgium and Luxembourg expected to be 100% recycled, which it says will result in combined saving of roughly 43,000 tonnes of virgin plastic each year.

The company also announced a partnership with The Ocean Cleanup to intercept some of the plastic debris in rivers around the world, but said last year that it will not abandon plastic bottles as they are popular with customers.

The stock was up 2% to US$57.14 in New York’s morning session.

Analyst Laura Hoy at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “While some of the increase can be attributed to easier comparisons – last year’s away-from-home sales were practically non-existent – you can’t help but admire the fact that the group’s also marginally ahead of where it was at this time in 2019. That’s all the more impressive given pandemic headwinds still exist to some degree.

“The reopening of Costa Coffee in the UK has been a breath of fresh air for Coke as well – the group took on a sizable amount of debt to acquire the coffee chain and get its foot in the door of the hot beverage market, only to see its revenue dry up a year later. With things getting back to normal, Coke can carry on with plans to develop the brand further.”

She said the guidance upgrade is encouraging, but she was taking the big numbers from this quarter’s update with a grain of salt.

“Coke is back to where it was before the pandemic. Now we’ll be watching for whether or not the group can bubble to the top of the pack by holding on to at-home gains as away-from-home growth picks up speed.”

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