After a tumultuous year, it is no surprise that some of the world's biggest companies are announcing management shake-ups during the last days of 2016.
Chief Operating Officer James Quincey, known for his deal-making and marketing skills, will step into Kent's shoes.
Coca-Cola still lags behind PepsiCo when it comes to diversification beyond soda. Although soda sales have fizzled, PepsiCo has continued to profit, thanks to its successful snack brands.
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With big changes in store at Coca-Cola, it wouldn't be surprised to see moves away from soda dependence. Therefore, investors should buy the stock ahead of that possibility.
Quincey has amassed an impressive record of deal-making by spearheading some of Coca-Cola's European bottler transactions, and deals should intensify as he takes the helm.
One possibility would be buying key brands from Monster Beverage, in which Coca-Cola already has a significant stake.
Such a step would have growth implications as Coca-Cola is projected to deliver less than 2% earnings-per-share growth annually for the next half decade. Monster Beverage, on the other hand, is projected to post earnings growth of 20%-plus annually over the next five years.
In addition, in the absence of non-soda moves, Quincey will have to lobby hard to avoid sugar taxes, no small task.
Quincey, will hopefully continue some of the effective moves initiated by Kent. The company is working toward a 100%-re-franchised bottling model in North America, while also re-franchising critical anchor bottlers internationally.
This should turn Coca-Cola into a more nimble, profitable enterprise, while reducing capital requirements. McDonald's also attempted to achieve this model, trying its hand at re-franchising.
Although Kent made investments in juice, tea and water beverage brands, Quincey must leverage or monetize these.
The opportunities for targeted brand acquisitions in high-value categories are tangible. One of them could be the $4 billion Hain Celestial, which has a huge list of recognized brands in the natural- and organic-products market.
Another interesting target could be Dr Pepper Snapple or some its brands.
As sales continue to decline, Quincey must acquire or build assets at a fast clip in order to consolidate Coca-Cola's growth path. And as he makes these changes, investors in Coca-Cola could see fantastic opportunities.
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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.