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Why I purchased Coca-Cola Stock?

I wasn’t sure if I was going to make another stock purchase this month. I’ve had some demands on my capital lately – specifically the costs involved with moving my blog to the new platform, and taxes. However, the move is now done and my taxes for 2013 have also been completed and closed out. The tax hit: $2,777. Not fun, but, of course, I’d much rather owe taxes because I’m doing well than take a time machine back to my early 20s when I was waiting tables and getting a tax refund every year because I wasn’t make much money.
Now that my capital situation is clear I found that I had a little left in the tank to make one more purchase this month. I’ve taken the last few days to scan for some opportunities, and while nothing immediately jumped at me as a steal, I did find one particular equity that caught my eye after some recent weakness. I found one of the bluest blue-chips down by almost -10% YTD, against a broader market decline for the S&P 500 of -0.46%. I took a look to see if there was some value there, and decided to act.
I purchased 30 shares of The Coca-Cola Company (KO) on 2/20/14 for $37.35 per share.
The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company. They own or license over 500 nonalcoholic beverage brands. They sell products in over 200 countries around the world.
This purchase comes not long after my last round of buying shares in Coca-Cola, as I added to my positionjust last month at $38.98 per share. So you’re telling me I can buy shares in of the highest quality companies in the world for even less money than I was willing to pay just one month ago? Count me in!
What’s changed?
Well, quite a bit.
Coca-Cola recently reported 4th quarter and full-year results, and investors haven’t been happy. In my opinion, results are mixed. Global volume for the year grew slightly less-than-expected, at 2%. This compares unfavorably to volume growth of 4% in 2012.  And revenue fell by 2% for the full year. However, revenue was negatively impacted by currency. Factoring currency and structural changes out, revenue grew by 3% for the full year. EPS was also down 3% for the full year, coming in at a reported $1.90. Likewise, EPS was negatively affected by currency. Global diversification is wonderful, but it looks like currency rates are causing some negative fluctuations in reported results right now. These trends tend to revert to a mean over time.
However, there are also some positive notes for the company.
Coca-Cola has entered into a global strategic partnership with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (GMCR), whereby Coke purchased a 10% minority equity stake in the company and will work with GMCR to develop a new cold beverage platform. Coke is hoping to get in on the ground floor of an exciting, new business as GMCR will be Coca-Cola’s exclusive partner for production and sale of Coca-Cola Company-branded single-serve pod-based cold beverages. Whether this catches on or not, it’s exciting that Coca-Cola is trying to adapt to changing consumer trends. And the 10% equity stakes gives them exposure to a fast growing coffee company.
Furthermore, while sugary beverages continue to face headwinds due to health risks and potential regulation, Coca-Cola did report gains in market shares for core sparking beverages and still beverages for the full year. While major markets in North America and Europe remain challenged, the company is experiencing rather robust growth in the Pacific Group and Eurasia & Africa Group.
In addition, Coca-Cola raised its quarterly dividend 8.9% today. The new quarterly per share dividend of $0.305 is an increase of 2.5 cents over the old quarterly rate of $0.28. This represents Coca-Cola’s 52nd year of consecutive dividend raises. Quite a feat, and one very few companies around the world can claim. However, this raise pushes up the full-year dividend to $1.22 per share. Against EPS of $1.90, that means the payout ratio now stands at 64%. A touch high, so I’ll be watching for continued growth in earnings to support future dividend raises. Meanwhile, the dividend remains comfortably covered by free cash flow. This raise now pushes Coca-Cola’s yield to 3.27% – which is quite high for this company. I’m more than happy to collect that type of yield on my investment from a high quality worldwide juggernaut with 52 years of dividend increases.
It’s been a tough couple years for Coca-Cola. Growth has been hard to come by as core markets continue to struggle. However, I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not looking at this quarter, or even the last few quarters. I’m looking at where Coca-Cola might be 10 years from now. And I see nothing that really concerns me. The company still sells over 3,500 products worldwide in over 200 countries. They still have 16 $1 billion brands. And the company keeps delivering solid dividend growth which propels my income ever-higher.
Using the last 10 years of data, revenue has grown from $21.9 billion in 2004 to $46.8 billion in 2013. That’s a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% over the last decade, which is down from the numbers I released just last month because I’m now using full-year results for 2013. Using the newly released EPS data, EPS has a CAGR of 7.4% over the last decade – up from $1.00 in 2004 to $1.90 for 2013. Again, this is down from the numbers I used last month as 2013′s results hadn’t been released yet at the time. S&P Capital IQ predicts CAGR in EPS of 8% over the next three years, which would be on par with what the company has historically delivered over longer periods of time.
Overall, while the numbers are in a negative trend over the last couple years, these growth rates are still very healthy over the last decade. Currency headwinds have certainly not helped, and volume growth is slower than the company and analysts had expected. However, I’m not all that concerned about the currency issues as these things tend to fluctuate over time. The volume growth is a bit concerning, but I’m confident that Coca-Cola can continue executing on cost-savings programs and new initiatives to drive growth like the recent partnership with GMCR. It’ll be interesting to see how Coca-Cola navigates over the next few years.
Qualitatively, I still feel this company is a fantastic holding for the long haul. The company sports one of the world’s most valuable brands in Coca-Cola, and the competitive advantages are obvious. Global distribution networks, and wide diversification between brands and products, as well as countries. And their products represent quality, which usually translates to a premium that allows Coca-Cola to maintain fairly healthy profit margins above 18%. For instance, I’m a very frugal guy. But when I drink soda it’s not store brand, I can tell you that. Coca-Cola tastes good, and so do all of their other beverage products.
The balance sheet remains healthy. The company currently has just over $17 billion in cash and cash-equivalents. The debt/equity ratio stands at 40%. And the interest coverage ratio is 30, which is very solid.
Risks remain with this company, as the aforementioned demand for sugary beverages wane to due health concerns. Regulation is also an ever-present risk. Furthermore, competition remains high with PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP).
Shares in Coca-Cola currently trade at a P/E ratio of 19.6, which is just a bit over its 5-year average of 18.2. Not cheap, but the yield is quite high compared to historical norms, and earnings have been hit by aforementioned currency headwinds. I valued shares using a typical Dividend Discount Model analysis with a 10% discount and a 7% long-term growth rate. This gives me a fair value on shares of $43.51. Bringing the growth rate down to 6% knocks the fair value down to a little over $32 per share, so it’s imperative that Coca-Cola continues to stay vigilant across all markets to ensure volume growth. I’d say the margin of safety in shares at today’s price is probably minimal overall, depending on what kind of growth the company is able to deliver going forward. But I’m happy to pay pretty close to fair value on one of the greatest companies in the world.
This purchase adds $36.60 to my annual dividend income total based on the current quarterly per share dividend of $0.305.
My portfolio currently holds 44 positions. This is unchanged with this purchase, as KO was an existing investment.
I’m going to include current analyst valuation opinions below, as I use these to concentrate my reasonable valuation estimate.
*Morningstar rates KO as a 4/5 star value, with a fair value estimate of $45.00.
*S&P Capital IQ rates KO as a 3/5 star Hold, with a fair value calculation of $34.00.
I’ll update my Freedom Fund in early March to reflect my recent addition.
Full Disclosure: Long KO, PEP
Do you like Coca-Cola here? What do you think of some of the recent developments?
Thanks for reading.

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