The Motley Fool Discussion Boards

Previous Page

Investing/Strategies / Conference Calls and Interviews


Subject:  KO: Coca Cola Q4 2007 CC Transcript Date:  2/14/2008  11:14 AM
Author:  FreethinkerKW Number:  11 of 25

Neville Isdell

Thank you, Ann and good morning, everyone. I’m going to start this morning with a few brief observations about the results and also highlight some of our accomplishments for 2007. Muhtar will then provide details on operational performance and our priorities for the current year, followed by Gary’s overview of the financials and some additional perspective on 2008.

Today we reported a very positive finish to 2007, with another solid quarter of business results, a strong 5% unit case volume growth and 12% ongoing EPS growth capped an excellent year for The Coca-Cola Company.

In the fourth quarter, all operating units reported volume growth despite tough comparisons in some key markets. We benefited from the diversity of our geographic reach and our breadth and also the breadth of our product portfolio.

We delivered consistent financial performance and achieved results ahead of our long-term growth model in each quarter of 2007. By successfully executing our clearly defined strategies, we achieved the following full year results: 6% unit case volume growth, led by our international operations up 8% and robust 4% sparkling and 12% still beverage growth; 20% net revenue growth -- even when you exclude the acquisition of bottlers, net revenue grew 12%; ongoing operating income growth of 14%; comparable earnings per share of 14%; and cash flow from operations up 20%.

Notably, this is our 11th consecutive quarter of delivering at least 4% volume growth. The strong top line performance is translating to bottom line results as we delivered our fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit comparable EPS.

In 2007, we sold over 1.2 billion incremental unit cases, 1 billion being organic, not acquisition related. What this actually means is that our consumers refresh themselves 1.5 billion times each day with one of our beverages. We’re a company moving successfully by executing against a clear strategic growth agenda. Across the company and throughout the system, talented people are driving growth and developing a culture of innovation and also improving efficiency.

We realize the journey is long and we are by no means declaring victory but we can confidently say that we have a solid foundation upon which to deliver long-term sustainable growth and value for our shareholders.

In 2007, we put our manifesto for growth into action. In fact, we now call it the manifesto in action. We made commitments to strengthen our sparkling portfolio, to enhance our position in still beverages, to improve our capabilities in consumer marketing, customer leadership, and franchise leadership, and ensure that our business is sustainable.

I am pleased to report that we delivered against each one of these commitments and are well-positioned to do so again in 2008 and beyond.

Specifically, we strengthened our position in sparkling beverages with trademarks Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Fanta, all delivering solid unit case growth. In fact, overall we captured 72% of the global sparkling beverage industry growth for the year.

Trademark Coca-Cola continued to be the key driver, with Coca-Cola Zero driving expansion of the category and gaining share. Coca-Cola Zero is now in 55 countries and it has become our 12th billion-dollar brand. Moreover, we’re executing against our three cola strategy with passionate and award-winning global marketing campaigns. This strategy has delivered the highest growth in trademark Coca-Cola since 1998.

As I’ve discussed in the past, sparkling beverages are going to continue to be the backbone of our global growth in both developed and emerging markets. Through integrated marketing and connection of our brands to consumer passion points like the Olympics in 2008, American Idol, and Super Bowl, we are uniquely positioned to capture the highly profitable sparkling beverage opportunity.

We also enhanced and expanded our still beverage business through organic growth and targeted bolt-on acquisitions. The biggest headline was our acquisition of Glaceau and its vitamin water brand. The fast-growing premier active lifestyle beverage has now become our 13th billion-dollar brand.

The acquisition has changed the game in North America beverages and helped align the Coca-Cola system to invest behind a winning portfolio of brands.

Beyond that one headline is continued global success across categories. Trademark Minute Maid increased unit cases 5%, driven by the expansion of Minute Maid Pulpy in China and other emerging markets. We’ve built a strong glo