Sports Drink innovation helps Coke exceed 4Q forecasts
New drinks like Coca-Cola Plus Coffee helped Coca-Cola Co. to a better-than-expected fourth quarter.
The Atlanta beverage maker said sales of fizzy drinks rose 3% for the quarter and 2% for the year, driven by strong sales in China, Brazil and Southeast Asia. Coke also got a boost from enhanced waters, like smartwater and Topo Chico, and sports drinks like Powerade. Sales in that category rose 2% for the quarter and 3% for the year.
Coke reported net income of $2 billion, more than double the $870 million it reported in the October-December period last year. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring items, came to 44 cents per share.
The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 43 cents per share.
Coke said it earned $2.11 per share for the full year, up 1% from 2018. This year, it expects to earn $2.25 per share.
The world’s largest beverage maker posted revenue of $9.07 billion in fourth quarter, also topping forecasts. Four analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $8.91 billion.
Coke said organic revenues — which don’t include the impact of acquisitions — grew 7% for the fourth quarter and 6% for the year. For 2020, the company expects organic revenue growth of 5%.
In the fourth quarter, organic revenues rose 26% in Latin America, 4% in North America and 8% in Asia. Organic revenues dropped 2% in the company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa region.
Coke has branched out from its signature soda in an effort to win over customers who are rejecting sugary drinks. The company said Coca-Cola Zero Sugar saw double digit sales gains last year. Coffee and tea sales — boosted by the company’s 2018 acquisiton of Costa Coffee — grew 4% in the fourth quarter and 1% for the year.
Earlier this month, Coke acquired full ownership of fairlife, a maker of enhanced dairy products like lactose-free milk.
Coke shares rose 3%.