Coca-Cola beats on earnings, says demand in March hit pre-pandemic levels

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A worker restocks a display of Coca-Cola Co. soft drinks at a store in Orem, Utah, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.
George Frey | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Coca-Cola is expected to report its first-quarter results before the bell on Monday.

Here’s what Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitiv are expecting:

  • Earnings per share: 50 cents
  • Revenue: $8.63 billion

Analysts are forecasting that Coke’s quarterly sales will rise less than 1% from a year ago, when the company first started to see an impact on its business from the coronavirus pandemic. Last March, it got a temporary boost to sales from pantry stockpiling in the United States, but its international markets were already seeing weakening demand. About half of Coke’s revenue comes from away-from-home occasions, which are still recovering from the impact of the crisis.

In 2021, Coke is expecting organic revenue growth in the high single digits and adjusted earnings growth in a range of high single digits to low double digits.

Rival PepsiCo, which reported its first-quarter results on Thursday, is still seeing consumers maintain their pandemic snacking habits. Pepsi executives told investors that demand for its North American beverage segment is expected to be strong in the coming quarters as more people return to restaurants, stadiums and movie theaters.

Another pressure point for Coke is more political. In recent weeks, Coke has come under fire for publicly failing to oppose a new election law in Georgia, its home state, that voting advocates say will disenfranchise people of color. After facing calls for a boycott of Coke products, CEO James Quincey told CNBC that the company has always opposed the legislation and said that the law needed to change.

The stock has risen 14% over the last 12 months, giving the company a valuation of $231 billion.

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