Coca-Cola shares are set for a breakout thanks to successes overseas and its mission to expand its beverage line-up, said Wells Fargo, which upgraded the stock to outperform.
But probably most interesting in analyst Bonnie Herzog’s Monday note was speculation that the 125-year-old purveyor of sugary beverages may make a move into alcoholic beverages. She expects management to make some hints of this at the company’s Investor Day on Thursday.
“We expect management will highlight a lot of this innovation,” Herzog wrote on Monday, as well as “expand on CEO Quincey’s recent commentary to: grow and incubate high-growth brands in the U.S. through its Venturing & Emerging Brands unit (VEB); build and nurture small brands internationally, similar to what it has achieved with success in the U.S. with VEB and through local partnerships; expand into other premium segments such as adult craft beverages.”
Wells Fargo raised its 12-month price target on the company to $51 from $45, representing 9 percent upside from Monday’s close.
A Coca-Cola spokesperson told CNBC that questions on beverage expansion will not be addressed until Investor Day.
The soft drink giant bought Fuze and Vitamin Water in 2007, Honest Tea in 2011 and Keurig Green Mountain in 2014. That same year, Coca-Cola took a 16.7 percent stake in Monster Beverage, a popular energy drink maker. But since then, Coke’s acquisition game-plan seems to have stalled.
In her list of key questions for management on the investor day, Herzog writes, “To what extent does KO intend to expand into adult craft beverages, and will that include alcoholic beverages (or just mixers)?”
Coca-Cola is the world’s largest non-alcoholic beverage maker with a market value of $199.6 billion. AB InBev is the world’s largest maker of alcoholic beverages with a market value of $197.2 billion. The maker of Budweiser just replaced its North America president in an effort to revive slumping beer sales.
“We continue to believe Coca-Cola’s best-in-class distribution and strong brand portfolio will allow it to retain its premium valuation and believe that investments in productivity and marketing today will pay off in years to come,” added Herzog. “We think Coca-Cola can support roughly 5 to 6 percent organic revenue growth over the next several years, ahead of current consensus estimates.”
During the company’s upcoming Investor Day, the analyst also expects the business to highlight diminished headwinds in Venezuela and Brazil, and cost savings in North America.
“With a new reinvigorated management team, and renewed focus on accelerating top-line growth while maintaining discipline around costs, we believe Coca-Cola’s next chapter of growth is around the corner.”