Coke's Q3 Sales Rebounded 16% as Venues, Dining Rooms Reopened

Coke is getting its fizz back.

A Coca-Cola sign hangs outside a Coca-Cola distributo on Feb. 9, 2021 in Bedford, Ohio.
A Coca-Cola sign hangs outside a Coca-Cola distributo on Feb. 9, 2021 in Bedford, Ohio.
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Coca-Cola Co. is getting its fizz back.

Revenue jumped 16% to $10 billion in the third quarter as stadiums, movie theaters and other venues reopened around the world. Case volumes rose 6% globally to exceed pre-pandemic volumes for the first time.

Coke edged out Wall Street revenue projections and far exceeded profit expectations, sending shares up 2% to $55.64.

The recovery remains bumpy, Chairman and CEO James Quincey said Wednesday, but even when restrictions are tightened due to the pandemic, customers are growing more resilient.

“We do see the world emerging from the crisis a bit like an earthquake,” Quincey said in a conference call with investors. “You get more aftershocks, but the consequent aftershocks tend to be smaller than the early ones.”

The Atlanta company raised its revenue and earnings guidance for the full year Wednesday. Coke said it now expects organic revenue growth at the higher end of its previous forecast of of 12% to 14% previously. It expects adjusted earnings per share to rise 15% to 17%, up from 13% to 15%.

Venues like restaurants and theaters typically account for half the company’s sales, and there was a pronounced recovery in the July-September period. The company’s Costa coffee shops reopened in the United Kingdom, for example, helping Coke’s coffee sales rise 19% compared to the year-ago period.

The volume of drinks purchased outside of the home have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, Quincey said, and the timeline for a full recovery is unknown. Customers who used to buy a soda in their office vending machine may now be working at home, for example.

“The snapback has happened and now it's going to be a little more of the smoothing of the curve to recover the rest of away-from-home,” he said. “Because in part people's habits have changed. It's an evolving landscape."

And sales of products consumed at home does remain strong. Sales of nutrition drinks, juices and dairy __ including Fairlife milk and Minute Maid orange juice __ jumped 12%. Sales of sparkling soft drinks were up 6%.

Coke Chief Financial Officer John Murphy said the company has largely avoided inflationary pressures on commodities like juice and aluminum this year because of long-term contracts that were in place. That could change next year if prices are still elevated.

Higher labor, transportation and marketing costs did weigh on performance. Quincey said Coke raised prices on various drinks in the U.S. in August to account for those increases. So far those actions haven't dampened demand.

Net income jumped 42% to $2.5 billion. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned 65 cents per share. That was higher than the 58 cents analysts forecast.

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