Coca-Cola: Reports Strong Growth in Q4 and FY 2019

Atlanta / GA. (ccc) The Coca-Cola Company reported another quarter of strong growth, along with achieving or exceeding all guidance for the full year 2019. The company continued to execute its growth strategy, allowing it to deliver strong revenue and profit growth for the quarter and full year while gaining value share globally.

«We made good progress in 2019 by delivering on our financial commitments and growing in a more sustainable way,» said James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. «We continue to transform the organization to act with a growth mindset, which gives us confidence in our 2020 targets and our ability to create a better shared future for all of our stakeholders.»

Quarterly respective Full Year Performance

  • Revenues: Net revenues grew 16 percent to USD 9.1 billion for the quarter and 9 percent to USD 37.3 billion for the year. Organic revenues (non-GAAP) grew 7 percent for the quarter and 6 percent for the year. Revenue growth for the quarter was driven by concentrate sales growth of 2 percent and price/mix growth of 5 percent. The quarter included one additional day, which resulted in an approximate 1-point benefit to revenue growth. Revenue growth for the year was driven by concentrate sales growth of 1 percent and price/mix growth of 5 percent.
  • Margin: For the quarter, operating margin, which included items impacting comparability, was 23.9 percent versus 23.4 percent in the prior year, while comparable operating margin (non-GAAP) was 24.8 percent in both the current and prior year. For the year, operating margin, which included items impacting comparability, was 27.1 percent versus 26.7 percent in the prior year. Comparable operating margin (non-GAAP) was 27.9 percent versus 28.8 percent in the prior year. For both the quarter and full year, strong underlying margin expansion was more than offset by headwinds from currency and net acquisitions.
  • Earnings per share: For the quarter, EPS grew 134 percent to USD 0.47, and comparable EPS (non-GAAP) grew 1 percent to USD 0.44. For the year, EPS grew 38 percent to USD 2.07, and comparable EPS (non-GAAP) grew 1 percent to USD 2.11. Both fourth quarter and full year comparable EPS (non-GAAP) performance included the impact of an 8-point currency headwind.
  • Market share: The company continued to gain value share in total nonalcoholic ready-to-drink (NARTD) beverages.
  • Cash flow: Cash from operations was USD 10.5 billion for the year, up 37 percent largely due to strong underlying growth, accelerated timing of working capital initiatives and the reduction of productivity and restructuring costs. Full year free cash flow (non-GAAP) was USD 8.4 billion, up 38 percent.

Company Updates

  • Gaining share across the total portfolio: In 2019, the company continued to grow its total portfolio, which led to the largest value share gains in almost a decade, with contribution from both sparkling and non-sparkling offerings. In sparkling, trademark Coca-Cola grew 6 percent retail value globally as it continued to scale innovative offerings such as Coca-Cola Plus Coffee, now available in more than 40 markets. Coca-Cola Zero Sugar continued to expand its footprint, achieving another year of double-digit volume growth. In the non-sparkling portfolio, innocent, one of the company’s juice and smoothie brands, continued to perform well led by innovative products such as innocent plus, a premium juice offering with added vitamins. The innocent brand scaled beyond its flagship market of Europe, launching in Japan during 2019 with more expansion planned in 2020.
  • Enabling growth through M+A: The company continues to expand its portfolio and capabilities through strategic acquisitions of brands in on-trend categories. Most recently, the company acquired full ownership of the value-added dairy business, fairlife, LLC. Value-added dairy products have been one of the fastest-growing categories in the United States, with fairlife being a large contributor to sales growth. fairlife’s continued success has been supported by new product innovations, ranging from lactose-free, ultra-filtered milk with less sugar and more protein than competing brands, to high-protein recovery and nutrition shakes and drinkable snacks. The brand has been supported by the reach of the U.S. Coca-Cola system, with products distributed through the Minute Maid distribution system and Coca-Cola bottlers across the country. The acquisition closed at the start of 2020.
  • Continued progress toward a World Without Waste: Packaging remains an ongoing focus, and there were many examples of advances during the year. Bottles made from 100 percent recycled PET (rPET) were available in 12 markets. Coca-Cola Sweden announced it would be the first market in the world to transition to 100 percent rPET for all plastic bottles made in-country. The company’s investments included USD 19 million for a new bottle-to-bottle recycling facility in the Philippines. In the United States, the company teamed with partners and major competitors to launch the «Every Bottle Back» program during the fourth quarter. This includes a new USD 100 million industry fund that will be used to improve sorting, processing and collection in areas with the biggest infrastructure gaps to help increase the amount of recycled plastic available to be remade into beverage bottles.
  • Growing revenue while reducing calories: Coca-Cola has teamed with industry counterparts to reduce the amount of calories Americans consume. The Balance Calories Initiative, launched in 2014, is the single-largest voluntary effort by an industry to help fight obesity. Coca-Cola is using its marketing resources and distribution network to boost awareness of, and interest in, the company’s ever-expanding portfolio of low- and no-calorie beverages and smaller packaging options, such as 7.5-oz. mini cans. These efforts are yielding results, as consumption of beverage calories has declined, driven by a reduction in calories consumed from full-sugar beverages, even as sales of sparkling soft drinks continue to grow.