Georgia’s Coca-Cola — 125 Years of Fizzy Growth

From pharmacy syrup to the No. 1 soft drink in the U.S.


Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) CEO Muhtar Kent aims to double Coke’s business by 2020. An extensive six-page article in the May 2012 issue of Fortune magazine acknowledges this is no small feat for a company on track to hit $48 billion in sales this year. One way it plans to pursue that growth is by investing $5 billion in India from 2012 to 2020 — and by making China its No. 1 market, even surpassing the U.S. and Mexico.

But although the company is looking around the world for its next big sales boom, there is no denying that the Coca-Cola brand is about as American as it gets.

The iconic American brand and beverage powerhouse got its humble beginnings in an Atlanta pharmacy — and 125 years later, Coca-Cola is one of the best-known brands in the world, making it our pick from Georgia for the Real America Index.

Coca-Cola expanded globally early on, moving into Canada, France and Latin America before 1920. That aggressive growth is part of the reason its cola remains ahead of Pepsi in bottles and cans sold. Currently, only about 40% of Coca-Cola sales volume (measured by gallons, not in dollars) can be attributed to American consumers. According to corporate figures, Coca-Cola sells more than 500 brands in over 200 countries and serves 1.8 billion servings of its products each day.

Though soft drink and snack conglomerate PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) hardly can be called “runner-up” to Coca-Cola, the reality is that in more than a century of competition, Coca-Cola never has fallen behind Pepsi’s cola in head-to-head sales thanks to the Atlanta-based company’s powerful brand and global appeal.

The company employs about 146,200 workers worldwide. With a nearly $3 billion advertising budget, Coca-Cola is a major client for print, television and online media outlets.

Because of its growth and its dependable dividend, Coca-Cola also is a common investment in all manner of Wall Street portfolios. The company saw strong sales both at home and abroad during the economic downturn, and while overall revenue did slip a few percentage points in fiscal 2009, the company paced a nearly 60% increase in sales in 2011 over 2007 numbers.

When it comes to a U.S. company that resonates with consumers, businesses and investors alike, you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger brand than Coca-Cola. For all these reasons, Coca-Cola is our Real America Index pick for Georgia.

Check out the complete list of Real America Index components, along with an interactive map of short-term and long-term returns.

As of this writing, Vicki Passmore did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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