Continuing with this game of catch-up, Coke recently reported their Q1 operating results here; while global volumes were up 2%, sales were down 4% and the reported per share earnings of $0.36 represented a 6% decline.
This, from their earnings call:
Our growth momentum is steadily improving in line with our expectations, as we delivered sequentially stronger volume growth of 2% in the quarter while gaining global volume and value share in nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverages. While we are making meaningful progress across our five strategic priorities to restore our momentum, we are firmly committed to further advancing our growth trajectory through 2014 as we are accelerating marketing investments in our brands and focusing relentlessly on marketplace execution in partnership with our bottling partners around the world.
Based on my own rules, KO maintains it’s position as a Dividend Aristocrat with it’s 52nd consecutive dividend increase, and at 8% it earns a pass; earnings growth has been relatively slow as noted, but FCFPS is steadily improving and it’s 5-year total return of 15%+ is certainly healthy enough.
And the whispers…
It seems David Winters, CEO of Wintergreen Advisors has been in front of the media with an idea that Warren Buffett might take this iconic brand private. This is the same Winters that recently took on the board of directors at Coke and Buffett over their “outrageous” and “excessive” compensation plan.
Winters cites Buffett’s buyout of Heinz at a 20% premium as a proxy for this potential deal. His worry is that the Heinz deal did not provide a “go-shop” period to solicit other potential bids. For me, I’m OK with a 20% premium, in cash.
Final word goes to a commentor on Seeking Alpha:
I was thinking of taking Coke private but then my mother called me in for dinner.