Why UBS Gave Coca-Cola (KO) a

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- UBS initiated coverage on The Coca-Cola Company  (KO) with a "neutral" rating and $40 price target. The investment firm said the beverage giant is fighting secular trends and needs tea and energy brands, particularly in exposure to international. 

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

"We rate COCA-COLA CO (KO) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable 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 expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself."

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

  • The gross profit margin for COCA-COLA CO is rather high; currently it is at 65.74%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 15.48% trails the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has remained constant at $2,830.00 million with no significant change when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, COCA-COLA CO has modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of -5.45%.
  • COCA-COLA CO's earnings per share declined by 7.3% 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 year. However, we anticipate this trend reversing over the coming year. During the past fiscal year, COCA-COLA CO reported lower earnings of $1.90 versus $1.96 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.10 versus $1.90).
  • KO, with its decline in revenue, slightly underperformed the industry average of 3.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly dropped by 3.6%. The declining revenue appears to have seeped down to the company's bottom line, decreasing earnings per share.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness 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.

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