Coke's first quarter lacked a whole bunch of fizz.
Coca-Cola (KO) shares are nearly flat at $43.29 late Tuesday morning after the company posted tepid 2017 first quarter results. The beverage giant reported that revenue fell 11% year over year to $9.1 billion. Still, Coke beat the $8.89 billion expectation on Wall Street.
"As anticipated, revenues in the quarter were adversely impacted by two fewer days and the shift of the Easter holiday," Coke CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the company posted earnings of 43 cents a share, compared to the 44 cents analysts surveyed at Factset anticipated. And, Coke said it sees full-year earnings per share declining 1% to 3%.
The results show why Wall Street is anticipating a fresh start for Coke. Kent, who has been in the position since 2008 will be replaced by current COO James Quincey on May 1. Investors are hoping he can boost sales again, which have fallen due to a general consumer shift away from sugary drinks.
"There's going to be a bag of surprises come Monday morning," Quincey said on a call with media.
Quincey has so far expressed ambitious growth plans for the soda king and led Coke's transition away from sugary beverages, amid the ongoing consumer shift to healthier food options. Persistently sluggish results in Coke's beverage heavy portfolio underscore why some on Wall Street are hoping Quincey gets into the faster growing healthy snack food business.
On Tuesday's earnings call, Quincey said Coke is focused on delivering on a few key initiatives to boost margins and earnings per share growth in 2018 and beyond, including driving revenues and building the consumer portfolio through acquisitions and introducing "hundreds of new products."
"We're taking actions to get to our goal of becoming a total beverage company," Quincey said, explaining that Coke will not just be focused on soda but also on brands such as Honest Tea and Smartwater.
On the media call, Quincey said the company will also be "very focused on expanding in other categories that are attractive to us" and sees "tremendous opportunity" for the growth of the Coke brand. He declined to go into detail about any planned M&A activity.
"When your primary business is under attack, I think not considering other revenue sources would be a big mistake," JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade chief market strategist, told TheStreet.
For now, Kinahan said water is going to be the Coke's biggest opportunity amid the consumer shift to healthier options, as sales of Dasani make up 16% of total revenues versus diet coke which only represent 9%.
But, Kinahan said water will also be tough for Coke to differentiate from other brands.
"Water is a very crowded space," Kinahan said. "Whether it's Dasani or Evian, you probably don't care. Brand recognition and water will be the CEO's biggest challenge."
Meanwhile, part of the way Coke plans to offset the costs of its ambitious growth plan is by reducing its employee headcount. Quincey said this year, Coke will eliminate 1,200 jobs.
On the media call, Quincey said the job reductions will primarily affect its corporate headquarters in Atlanta.