"I happen to elect to consume 700 calories a day of Coca-Cola -- I'm not sure which quarter (of calories) and I'm not sure we want to pursue that question," Buffett said Saturday at Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.A) - Get Report annual meeting. Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway owns 9% of the beverage giant and is its largest shareholder, added, "I really wish I had a twin, and that twin had eaten broccoli his entire life -- I know I would have been happier, and I think the odds are I would have lived longer."
Buffett is 85 years old.
Sugary cans of Coke aren't the only thing driving happiness in the Oracle of Omaha's world.
Shares of Coca-Cola hit a record high of $47.13 on April 11, falling back slightly to $44.80 as of Friday.
So far this year, Coca-Cola's stock has gained about 4.3%, outperforming the 2% gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Over the past year, Coke's stock has tacked on a cool 9.5% vs. the Dow's 1.4% decline.
While some on Wall Street may view the rise in Coca-Cola's stock as a function of investors seeking safe-haven investments in a volatile market, there are likely several other more important reasons driving the ascent. Despite pressured sales of sugar-laden soda, Coca-Cola is being run more efficiently and is seeing pockets of growth outside of its core soda business.
The company has been cutting costs through job reductions and the unloading of some of its bottling operations and factories. In late February, the company said it would refranchise all of its North American bottling operations by the end of 2017, three years ahead of plan, while also refranchising its operations in China. Refranchising will allow Coca-Cola to significantly reduce capital expenditures and in turn boost profit margins and return on investment.
In total, Coca-Cola is targeting about $3 billion in annual savings by 2019.
The cost cuts and momentum in non-soda products helped Coke deliver better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.
Coke reported earnings excluding one-time items of 45 cents a share, narrowly beating Wall Street estimates for 44 cents. Total revenue clocked in at $10.3 billion, down about 4% year over year due to the strength of the U.S. dollar that clipped sales by 5 percentage points. Coke's organic revenue, which excludes the impact of currency fluctuations, rose 2% on the the back of global momentum for sports drinks, teas, packaged water and energy drinks. Global volume rose 2%.
Sales of trademark Coca-Cola declined in every country except for the Asia Pacific region, where sales rose 3%. In the U.S., sales of diet Coke declined, with Coca-Cola's President and Chief Operating Officer James Quincey saying on a an April 20 call with reporters the company is "still not happy on the performance of Diet Coke" and that it was taking action to improve performance.
In an interview with TheStreet, Quincey said Coke continued to have success among consumers with small soda can sizes, which tend to help boost profits.
The company reiterated its financial targets for the year. Organic revenue is seen increasing 4% to 5%, while earnings per share were expected to gain 4% to 6%.