Even though Christmas is around the corner, this year it might not be so merry for The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO). The company is experiencing global challenges ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to currency fluctuations and changing consumer attitudes to its products.
The global span has many benefits when it comes to operational efficiencies and potential revenues. Still, it also becomes a global weakness when the entire world is affected by the pandemic. Can the soft drinks giant change its fortunes and enter the year 2021 with untapped opportunities and growth targets that it missed in 2020?
This year has been challenging, but not catastrophic for the company, taking into consideration how the pandemic affected Coke’s markets. The pandemic itself was only a part of the equation of challenges Coca-Cola had to deal with this years.
Latin America showed the largest drop in revenue compared to other major markets. Even though the comparable operating income in the region grew by 12%, mainly due to cost optimizations, currency fluctuations negatively offset it and resulted in 15% lower revenues in nine months ending September 25, 2020.
In EMEA markets, the company saw a 16% drop in operating revenues. Emerging and developing markets performed better, compared to the developed markets, where the sales declined. Despite the ongoing challenges, The Coca-Cola increased its share in NARTD (Non-alcoholic ready to drink) segment.
North America, the company’s largest market, saw the smallest decline with the operating income dropping by 4% this year. Weak performance in fountain segment partially offset by much more robust performance in premium product categories. The company’s NARTD share shrank mainly due to its substantial exposure to non-home channels, that were affected by the pandemic related restriction on trading.
So why despite all the bad news in 2020, the next year can bring much better results for the company? Firstly, the demand for its products is still there. While there were some downward adjustments in the demand in specific product categories, ultimately people still want Coke and other brands in the company’s portfolio.
The Coca-Cola Company played the long game investing and expanding its portfolio. It allowed such necessary levels of diversification, especially knowing the changing consumer sentiment towards sugary drinks, to which the company has offering ranging from non-sugary versions to much healthier brands altogether.
It also has the necessary financial and marketing resources to deploy towards the markets if necessary. Its relationships with the retail networks lend itself to almost immediate recovery in sales as soon as lockdowns and restrictions to hospitality businesses are allowed to trade freely.
The company’s global ventures division, where coffee chain Costa is the main component, is much likely to survive adverse trading conditions and come out in good shape, compared to smaller chains and independent cafes.
The Covid-19 vaccination will likely to start still this year. It may result in fewer restrictions on trade across all sectors; therefore, the company is very likely to experience ‘celebratory success’, as optimistic outlooks can have a strong positive effect on its bottom line. It is also very likely that the company may acquire smaller competitors, as the price pressure on stocks is much greater for smaller producers.
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