The Coca-Cola (KO) Upgraded to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

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Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of The Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) from a sell rating to a hold rating in a report released on Tuesday morning, Zacks.com reports.

According to Zacks, “Coca-Cola surpassed the industry in the past year driven by its ongoing productivity efforts and disciplined growth strategies. This aided results in fourth-quarter 2018, wherein earnings were in line while sales beat estimates marginally. Price/mix improvements due to core business strength also contributed to the solid results. Acceleration of sparkling soft drinks category through investment and innovation also bode well. Moreover, its transformative global re-franchising initiatives are expected to boost margins. However, the company issued a bleak earnings and sales view for 2019. Notably, the company expects adverse currency rates to significantly hurt comparable revenues and operating income in the first quarter and 2019. Currency headwinds have persistently hurt the company’s results for the past few quarters, including fourth-quarter 2018. Further, emerging market volatility and soft CSD volumes continue to remain impediments.”

KO has been the topic of several other reports. Credit Suisse Group initiated coverage on shares of The Coca-Cola in a report on Wednesday, March 6th. They set a neutral rating and a $48.00 price target on the stock. Morgan Stanley set a $48.00 price target on shares of The Coca-Cola and gave the stock a hold rating in a report on Friday, February 15th. Royal Bank of Canada restated a buy rating and set a $56.00 price target on shares of The Coca-Cola in a report on Wednesday, February 13th. Goldman Sachs Group restated a neutral rating and set a $47.00 price target on shares of The Coca-Cola in a report on Thursday, February 14th. Finally, JPMorgan Chase & Co. restated a neutral rating and set a $51.00 price target on shares of The Coca-Cola in a report on Thursday, February 14th. Sixteen analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating and seven have given a buy rating to the company. The stock has an average rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $50.60.

Shares of NYSE KO opened at $46.95 on Tuesday. The stock has a market cap of $200.50 billion, a PE ratio of 22.57, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 3.16 and a beta of 0.52. The Coca-Cola has a 1 year low of $41.45 and a 1 year high of $50.84. The company has a quick ratio of 0.95, a current ratio of 1.05 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.33.

The Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) last released its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, February 14th. The company reported $0.43 earnings per share for the quarter, hitting the consensus estimate of $0.43. The Coca-Cola had a net margin of 20.20% and a return on equity of 43.91%. The business had revenue of $7.10 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $7.07 billion. During the same period in the previous year, the company earned $0.39 earnings per share. The firm’s revenue for the quarter was down 5.5% compared to the same quarter last year. As a group, research analysts anticipate that The Coca-Cola will post 2.09 EPS for the current fiscal year.

The business also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Monday, April 1st. Shareholders of record on Friday, March 15th were paid a $0.40 dividend. This represents a $1.60 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.41%. This is a boost from The Coca-Cola’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.39. The ex-dividend date was Thursday, March 14th. The Coca-Cola’s payout ratio is presently 76.92%.

In other news, insider Beatriz R. Perez sold 21,742 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Monday, February 4th. The shares were sold at an average price of $48.76, for a total value of $1,060,139.92. Following the sale, the insider now owns 92,645 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $4,517,370.20. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is accessible through the SEC website. Also, SVP Beatriz R. Perez sold 10,000 shares of the business’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Friday, February 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $48.50, for a total transaction of $485,000.00. Following the completion of the sale, the senior vice president now directly owns 92,645 shares in the company, valued at approximately $4,493,282.50. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. 1.33% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. Van ECK Associates Corp increased its holdings in The Coca-Cola by 14.8% during the 4th quarter. Van ECK Associates Corp now owns 98,108 shares of the company’s stock worth $4,645,000 after acquiring an additional 12,660 shares during the period. Northeast Investment Management increased its holdings in The Coca-Cola by 4.4% during the 4th quarter. Northeast Investment Management now owns 42,961 shares of the company’s stock worth $2,034,000 after acquiring an additional 1,818 shares during the period. Berman Capital Advisors LLC increased its holdings in The Coca-Cola by 40.4% during the 4th quarter. Berman Capital Advisors LLC now owns 13,429 shares of the company’s stock worth $635,000 after acquiring an additional 3,865 shares during the period. GSA Capital Partners LLP bought a new stake in The Coca-Cola during the 4th quarter worth approximately $234,000. Finally, CX Institutional bought a new stake in The Coca-Cola during the 4th quarter worth approximately $928,000. 67.83% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

About The Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola Company, a beverage company, manufactures and distributes various nonalcoholic beverages worldwide. The company provides sparkling soft drinks; water, enhanced water, and sports drinks; juice, dairy, and plant–based beverages; teas and coffees; and energy drinks. It also offers concentrates, syrups, beverage bases, source waters, and powders/minerals, as well as fountain syrups to fountain retailers, such as restaurants and convenience stores.

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