All investor eyes have been on The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO) recently, but not for good reason. The beverage giant underperformed in the first half of this year and disappointed investors with the end result of a growth guidance reduction.
Despite noting this “top-line softness,” UBS analyst Stephen Powers reiterates a Buy rating on KO with a price target of $50, which represents a nearly 18% increase from where the shares last closed.
Although Powers acknowledges these recent setbacks, the analyst remains positive on KO, explaining, “While we too have been disappointed, we retain forward optimism based on the likely transitory nature of its headwinds (particularly BIG’s performance in China), and the opportunity to gain share/increase portfolio exposure in Stills.”
From the analyst’s perspective, there is a “magnitude of change currently underway” in a larger picture for KO, from CCEP and CCBA deal closures, the CCEJ and CCW merger announcement, refranchising agreements amounting to 70% of CCR volume, plans to refranchise China come 2017, to “renegotiated economics” with FEMSA.
Powers asserts, “Overall, we are bullish on these actions and their prospects of unlocking value for both KO and the System at large—particularly as benefits of focus/specialization take root (i.e., KO in marketing and R&D; bottlers in manufacturing and distribution), set alongside a better overall incentive alignment.”
Of course, the analyst understands the near-term challenges KO stock faces in confronting skeptics on back of weak guidance for the second half of 2016 as well as for the fiscal year of 2017. Yet, Powers’ “optimism is shaped by 3 anticipated FY17 developments:” better top-line advances, sustaining productivity thanks to significant overhead reductions, and a robust refranchising and system evolution.
New investor conference comments coupled with KO Investor Relations meetings in Europe have bolstered the analyst’s bullishness on KO, believing this change could yield “great opportunity” for the company.
According to the TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, three-star analyst Stephen Powers is ranked #1,917 out of 4,172 analysts. Powers has a 59% success rate and gains 1.0% in his yearly returns. However, when recommending KO, Powers loses 1.2% in average profits on the stock.
TipRanks analytics exhibit KO as a Buy. Based on 12 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 7 rate a Buy on KO, while 5 maintain a Hold. The consensus price target stands at $48.56, marking a nearly 15% upside from where the stock is currently trading.