NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's not often that shares of Coca-Cola ( KO) fall below their fair-market value. Even amid so-called "bad quarters," these shares rarely get cheap. Although Coca-Cola didn't have an exceptional fourth quarter, don't expect the stock's recent 4% decline to snowball out of control. With shares down roughly 13% from their May 2013 high, there's still plenty of value to be had here.
As seen in results from PepsiCo (PEP) and Dr. Pepper Snapple (DPS), weak volume and compressed margins have been the story in the food and beverage sector. Not to mention, the entire group has been hurt by the term "liquid candy," shorthand for heightened nutritional fears regarding the rise of obesity. This is an issue that plagues close to 40% of Americans and has become a global concern.
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Accordingly, with vocal opposition from the likes of former Mayor Bloomberg in New York, many states have begun to prioritize ways to address (among other things) beverage consumption, which according to many experts is a key contributor to weight gain. Today, the Street is acting surprised that Coca-Cola's fourth-quarter revenue declined 4% year over year.
It's true the 1% total volume growth for the quarter (versus expectations were for 2-3%) disappointed. I won't even pretend that that 1% decline in North America isn't a big deal. But with so many social/business obstacles in the Carbonated Soft Drink market, what did we expect?
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As TheStreet's Stephanie Link pointed out in an article yesterday, there is still much more to Coke than a meager North American soft drink company. The soft drinks segment is only one aspect of it its business.
Link pointed out that close to 80% of Coca-Cola's operating profit comes from international markets, with a meaningful percentage (roughly 55% of its total operating income) coming from emerging markets. Let's also not discount that the company grew volumes by 8% and 6% in India and Africa, respectively. And despite China's economic struggles, the region still grew 3%. What this means is that Coca-Cola, despite the downbeat results, still has growth on tap.