Textual content measurement
inventory lastly has its fizz again after reclaiming its Covid-era highs. Its shares ought to hold climbing.
The postpandemic world hasn’t been straightforward for the beverage maker. Whereas the
way back regained its pre-Covid highs, Coca-Cola (ticker: KO) completed 2021 up 8% at $59.21, nonetheless a contact beneath its all-time excessive of $60.13 reached on Feb. 21, 2021 (though above its dividend-adjusted excessive of $56.36). Including to the frustration, shares of
(PEP) soared above their 2020 highs and completed 2021 up 17%.
What a distinction a brand new yr makes. Coca-Cola has had a rip-roaring begin to 2021, gaining 1.9% to shut the primary week of January at $60.33, lastly busting by means of to a brand new excessive. It’s additionally outpaced Pepsi, which gained simply 0.2% this previous week. Don’t be stunned if that outperformance continues.
Coca-Cola had loads of headwinds following the onset of the pandemic. It depends on eating places and different venues for a bigger portion of its gross sales than Pepsi, and it was additionally shuttering smaller brands like Tab, Zico coconut water, and Odwalla, in addition to some regional manufacturers, over the course of the yr. Nor does the beverage titan have the big snack enterprise of Pepsi’s Frito-Lay.
All this, nonetheless, ought to make 2022 a greater yr for Coca-Cola, writes Guggenheim analyst Laurent Grandet, who upgraded the inventory to Purchase from Impartial this previous Tuesday. He notes that the so-called on-premise enterprise is enhancing at a faster-than-expected tempo, whereas the corporate has grow to be extra centered on what’s working. Rising markets are additionally enhancing. In consequence, Grandet sees Coke’s earnings per share rising at a 12% annualized clip by means of 2023, hitting $2.71 that yr. That ought to assist drive the inventory larger.
Coca-Cola additionally has room for its valuation to extend. It trades at 24.8 instances 12-month ahead earnings expectations, based on FactSet, a reduction to Pepsi’s 25.8 instances. “[We] assume the shares will catch the misplaced floor in early ’22,” writes Grandet, who raised his worth goal to $66.
It’s not all clear crusing. Looming over the corporate is a tax dispute with the Inner Income Service that would lead to a $12 billion hit, says CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson. Whereas that’s horrifying, he argues that Coke ought to be capable to offset it with improved focus gross sales and higher pricing.
“In our view, the pending decision of its IRS tax case…will carry a serious overhang, permitting traders to concentrate on KO’s fundamentals and powerful underlying momentum from the rebound in on-premise gross sales and sturdy pricing atmosphere,” writes Nelson, who additionally upgraded Coca-Cola inventory this previous week. He sees shares buying and selling to $68, up 13% from Friday’s shut.
To which we are saying, have a Coke and a smile.
Write to Ben Levisohn at Ben.Levisohn@barrons.com