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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Coca-Cola (KO) - Get Coca-Cola Company Report is losing its chief science and health officer, as Rhona Applebaum announced that she is leaving after the soda company was heavily criticized for funding an anti-obesity group, Bloomberg reports.

The Global Energy Balance Network is a non-profit working to combat obesity. Emails obtained by the Associated Press showed that Coca-Cola had been "instrumental" in shaping the organization's message. Applebaum is said to have helped manage the relationship between the company and the group, Bloomberg noted.

The tight relationship caused concern that Coca-Cola would use the group to try and change public opinion about its role in the growing population of obese Americans.

Soda makers have been dealing with consumer concern regarding the health effects of the high sugar beverages.

Over the last 20 years, the sale of full calorie soda has dropped by more than 25%, the New York Times reported.

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Shares of Coca-Cola are up by 0.70% to $43.26 in early afternoon trading on Tuesday.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates COCA-COLA CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate COCA-COLA CO (KO) a BUY. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its notable return on equity and expanding profit margins. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Beverages industry and the overall market, COCA-COLA CO's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • The gross profit margin for COCA-COLA CO is rather high; currently it is at 64.16%. Regardless of KO's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, KO's net profit margin of 12.68% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • Regardless of the drop in revenue, the company managed to outperform against the industry average of 11.0%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 4.6%. Weakness in the company's revenue seems to have hurt the bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • COCA-COLA CO's earnings per share declined by 31.3% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has suffered a declining pattern of earnings per share over the past two years. However, we anticipate this trend to reverse over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, COCA-COLA CO reported lower earnings of $1.59 versus $1.90 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.99 versus $1.59).
  • After a year of stock price fluctuations, the net result is that KO's price has not changed very much. Although its weak earnings growth may have played a role in this flat result, don't lose sight of the fact that the performance of the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, was essentially similar. Turning toward the future, the fact that the stock has come down in price over the past year should not necessarily be interpreted as a negative; it is one of the factors that makes this stock an attractive investment.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: KO

Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of Jim Cramer, TheStreet or any of its contributors.