"Several times every year, a weighty and serious investor looks long and with a profound respect at Coca-Cola's record, but comes regretfully to the conclusion that he is looking too late."
That quote, as Goizueta would proudly point out, was from an article in Fortune Magazine — written in December of 1938.
Today, Coca-Cola’s expansion in international markets is alive and well. Over the years, Coca-Cola has presented a chart showing per capita consumption of the company’s products by country in order to quantify just how sizable of an opportunity remains across the globe; here are some of the most relevant figures as of year-end 2011:
|Country||Per Capita Consumption||Estimated Population|
The two lines at the bottom of the graphic jump off the page; it’s interesting to know that despite having committed billions to the region, the company is still unable to reach an estimated 80% (as cited by Bloomberg) of all potential outlets for their products due to poor infrastructure. This will change over the coming years, and will correspond with a growing middle class and a population under the age of 15 numbering 350 million people — larger than the entire population of the U.S; by Euromonitor’s estimates, this will result in the soft drink market more than doubling in the five years to 2015, to more than $7 billion.
As Coca-Cola and Pepsi (PEP) have shown time and time again, their competitive advantages are not contained by national borders. Part of this advantage comes in the form of sheer size and financial flexibility, which cannot be matched by dominant (but materially smaller) regional players — for example, Coca-Cola and it’s local partners plan on spending $5 billion in India by 2020, which will be used on marketing and advertising, as well as on distribution networks in order to penetrate the majority of outlets that are currently unreachable. To date, the result has been pure domination, with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo commanding 60% and 37% of the Indian carbonated beverage market, respectively.
With 2012 sales to exceed $50 billion and a current market cap of $170 billion (in addition to being the favorite holding of the world’s most well-known value investor), KO certainly isn’t riding under the radar; like the Fortune article from the late 1930s, it’s easy to look at Coca-Cola and conclude that one has come across the behemoth a bit too late. In reality, the market opportunity in China, India and other emerging markets is comparable (in terms of population) to the space Coca-Cola has grown into over the past 100 years; from my perspective, this is looking much more like 1906 than 1938.
About the author:
I hope to own a collection of great businesses; to ever sell one, I would demand a substantial premium to the average market valuation due to what I believe are the understated benefits to the long term investor of superior fundamentals and time on intrinsic value. I don't have a target when I purchase a stock; my goal is to replicate the underlying returns of the business in question - which if I've done my job properly, should be very attractive over many years.