|Kathy Waller, chief financial officer of Coca-Cola, said the company anticipates continued challenges in the coming year.|
ATLANTA — While The Coca-Cola Co. is in the midst of a dramatic transition that includes the refranchising of its North American business and an investment in the Monster Beverage Corp., which includes the swap of some brands, company management does not expect fiscal 2015 to be much different from fiscal 2014.
“As we look ahead to 2015, we anticipate continued challenging macroeconomic conditions in most developed markets as well as some key emerging markets,” said Kathy Waller, chief financial officer, in a call with financial analysts on Dec. 15. “ … Therefore, we do not expect our comparable currency neutral e.p.s. (earnings per share) growth in 2015 to differ significantly from our growth rate this year.”
As the strength in the global economy in conjunction with the market for carbonated soft drinks in some developed markets has declined, Coca-Cola has taken steps to improve its business performance. Examples include streamlining and simplifying its operating model to speed decision making; targeting $3 billion in efficiencies by 2019 by restructuring the company’s supply chain, including manufacturing in North America; and refranchising company-owned bottling territories in North America.
With so many changes taking place, 2015 may be viewed as a transition year for the company.
“Results will take time to gain traction as we implement significant change in our company next year and reinvest in our business,” Ms. Waller said. “We will emerge stronger and we will be well-positioned to take advantage of extremely attractive long-term fundamentals driving our industry.
“We remain confident in the growth potential for non-alcoholic beverages. While growth rates will be challenging in the short term given the macroeconomic volatility, we believe that over time consumer trends will support mid-single-digit revenue growth. As a reminder, our currency neutral long-term targets are mid-single-digit revenue growth, 6% to 8% p.b.t. (profit before tax) growth, and high-single-digit e.p.s. growth.
“Further, we absolutely believe that the Coca-Cola Co. is best positioned to capture growth in non-alcoholic beverages and continue to deliver long-term value to our shareholders.”
Company executives expect the investment in Monster Beverage will close by the end of the first quarter. Once completed, the transaction will represent approximately $750 million to $800 million of revenue in 2015.
“When all territories are transferred we will add approximately 50 million incremental cases in 2015,” Ms. Waller said. “We are swapping our global energy brand portfolio from Monster’s non-energy brand portfolio in the U.S. The impact of brand swaps on net revenue is expected to be neutral as concentrate revenue on KO’s (Coca-Cola’s) legacy energy brands will be mostly offset by finished goods revenue on Monster's non-energy brands.“Gross profit will be negatively impacted despite the structural benefit at net revenue primarily due to the loss of concentrate profit on KO’s legacy energy brands. The slight negative impact at gross profit becomes a slight benefit at p.b.t. due primarily to the equity income recorded on our investment.”