In a research report released yesterday, Credit Suisse analyst Laurent Grandet initiated coverage on shares of The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO) with a Neutral rating and price target of $44, which represents a slight upside potential from current levels.
Grandet introduced his 2016-18 EPS estimates for KO of $1.91, $1.97, and $1.97, respectively. This takes into account his estimation of how the refranchising will play out over the coming years as the sales base declines (loss of bottling operations) and margins expand.
Grandet wrote, “We think the shares will remain range-bound over the coming 12 months as the company implements the organizational and operational changes it is currently undertaking. Coke is one of the top three most valuable brands in the world and one of the best operators out there. Our estimates are generally in-line with the consensus for FY16/17, but we think earnings over the coming year or two will be bumpy owing to the timing of refranchising.”
“Positives for Coke include (1) the refranchising, (2) a better alignment with bottling partners, and (3) the Monster deal. We think the company is making the right moves and will do better what it does best. However, we question whether it’s enough to move the needle over the coming couple years when KO’s core Carbonated Soft Drink (CSD) business is declining in the U.S (-2%) and slowing down internationally (+2%),” the analyst added.