How Coca-Cola Plans to Keep Growing


Few companies are present in more markets than Coca-Cola . The legendary beverage company has a huge distribution network spanning more than 200 countries and territories, something that few companies can replicate.

Despite increasing competition from traditional rivals like PepsiCo , and recent challengers such as Monster Beverages , Coca-Cola has remained the no. 1 brand in the global market for carbonated soft drinks for many years. After reaching almost $50 billion in revenue per year from selling soft drinks, however, is Coca-Cola close to reaching the zero-growth zone? How does Coca-Cola plan to keep growing?

KO Revenue TTM Chart
KO Revenue TTM Chart

Source: YCharts.

The sky is the limit
It's natural to question Coca-Cola's ability to keep growing in the future. For 25 consecutive quarters, the company has been able to capture a huge amount of the global non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverage market share. The good news is that the company also has a sound plan for further expansion, which is already producing attractive results. In the third quarter of 2013, Coca-Cola was able to grow global beverage volume by 2%.

The segment for juice and juice drinks, sport drinks, and ready-to-drink teas could become a relevant growth catalyst because consumers from developed economies are becoming more aware of what they drink. Promoting healthy drinks could actually offset the negative influence that decreasing per capita soda consumption in the U.S. is having on revenue. Both Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sold less soda in the second quarter in North America.

Coca-Cola is already investing heavily in this segment. Early this year, the company took full control of Innocent Drinks, a British company that makes veg pots, kids drinks, and natural juices drinks, which was founded in 1998. By 2009, it was already selling more than 2 million smoothies per week.

PepsiCo is also targeting health-concerned consumers. The company owns Tropicana, a 100% fruit juice brand, which is the no. 1 juice brand in the United Kingdom. PepsiCo's strategy is to invest in well-recognized brands and companies that have vast experience in the health and wellness segment. For example, Tropicana has more than 60 years of experience in making healthy juice. In 2010, PepsiCo also agreed to by 77% of Russian dairy product company Wimm-Bill-Dann, which specializes in yogurt and milk.

Exciting growth opportunities can also be found in emerging and developing markets. Due to the still relatively low soda consumption these markets face, they can become important growth engines and help Coca-Cola to reach its 2020 vision, which includes taking daily servings to over 3 billion.

Despite strong volatility in emerging markets, Coca-Cola saw a 5% volume increase in Latin America, 4% in Eurasia and Africa, an amazing 9% in China, and 6% in India. These robust results are a reflection of Coca-Cola's creative marketing campaigns, which involve diverse strategies, from using Weibo -- a micro-blogging platform -- in China to promote customized bottles, to promoting returnable glass bottles in Latin America to ensure affordability tied to lower price points.

The segment of energy drinks could become another interesting growth engine. In 2012, total sales for energy drinks and shots in the U.S. only was worth more than $12.5 billion. That being said, Coca-Cola may be weak in this segment. One of Coca-Cola's energy drinks, Burn, was introduced as early as in 2002 and now is being distributed in more than 80 countries. Its market share is too small in comparison with Red-Bull and Monster Beverages, however.

Few people knew about Monster Beverages in 2003, but the company is now the world's second-largest energy drink manufacturer. Revenue grew from $50 million in 2003 to $1.9 billion by 2012, thanks to a smart marketing campaign and aggressive pricing. The best part of the story is that with international sales occupying only 21% of total sales in 2012, Monster still has monstrous growth opportunities overseas.

Monster's growth story is so impressive that Coca-Cola, which already has agreements with Monster to distribute some of its energy drinks, explored an acquisition deal in the past. This would have been Coca-Cola's largest acquisition in its 126 years history.

My Foolish take
You can buy a Coke in virtually every country around the globe. Although its operations are gigantic, Coca-Cola still has plenty of growth opportunities available in the energy drinks segment, in emerging economies, and in the health and wellness segment.

With more than $30 billion in assets, the company can also acquire new complementary businesses, just like PepsiCo did with Frito-Lay. If you think Coca-Cola's growth opportunities are strong enough to invest in it, you might find this opportunity even more compelling after reading more about Coca-Cola's amazing dividend.

There's more to love about Coke
Due to its rich dividend, Coca-Cola is the type of investment every long-term value investor may be looking for. If you're looking for some long-term investing ideas, you're invited to check out The Motley Fool's brand-new special report, "The 3 Dow Stocks Dividend Investors Need." It's absolutely free, so simply click here now and get your copy today.

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Adrian Campos has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Coca-Cola, Monster Beverage, and PepsiCo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Monster Beverage and PepsiCo. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Originally published