Understanding Your Return On Investment In The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO)

The content of this article will benefit those of you who are starting to educate yourself about investing in the stock market and want to better understand how you can grow your money by investing in The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO).

Purchasing Coca-Cola gives you an ownership stake in the company. This share represents a portion of capital used by the company to operate the business, and it is important the company is able to use the capital base efficiently to create adequate cash flows for you as an investor. You need to pay attention to this because your return on investment is linked to dividends and internal investments to improve the business, which can only occur if the company is expected to produce adequate earnings with the capital that has been provided. Therefore, looking at how efficiently Coca-Cola is able to use capital to create earnings will help us understand your potential return. Investors use many different metrics but the analysis below focuses on return on capital employed (ROCE). Let’s take a look at what it can tell us.

View our latest analysis for Coca-Cola

Calculating Return On Capital Employed for KO

As an investor you have many alternative companies to choose from, which means there is an opportunity cost in any investment you make in the form of a foregone investment in another company. The cost of missing out on another opportunity comes in the form of the potential long term gain you could’ve received, which is dependent on the gap between the return on capital you could’ve achieved and that of the company you invested in. Hence, capital returns are very important, and should be examined before you invest in conjunction with a certain benchmark that represents the minimum return you require to be compensated for the risk of missing out on other potentially lucrative investments. A good metric to use is return on capital employed (ROCE), which helps us gauge how much income can be created from the funds needed to operate the business. This metric will tell us if Coca-Cola is good at growing investor capital. KO’s ROCE is calculated below:

ROCE Calculation for KO

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) = Earnings Before Tax (EBT) ÷ (Capital Employed)

Capital Employed = (Total Assets – Current Liabilities)

∴ ROCE = US$10.68b ÷ (US$89.59b – US$31.40b) = 18.36%

As you can see, KO earned $18.4 from every $100 you invested over the previous twelve months. A good ROCE hurdle you should aim for in your investments is 15%, which is exceeded by KO and means the company creates a solid amount of earnings on capital employed. If this can be sustained with good reinvestment opportunities or dividend distributions your capital has the potential to compound over time.

NYSE:KO Last Perf August 2nd 18
NYSE:KO Last Perf August 2nd 18

A deeper look

Coca-Cola’s relatively strong ROCE is tied to the movement in two factors that change over time: earnings and capital requirements. At the moment Coca-Cola is in a favourable position, but this can change if these factors underperform. So it is important for investors to understand what is going on under the hood and look at how these variables have been behaving. Looking at the past 3 year period shows us that KO boosted investor return on capital employed from 17.49%. Over the same period, EBT went from US$11.31b to US$10.68b, but the use of capital has fallen further due to a fall in total assets employed and a larger reliance on current liabilities (increased borrowing to fund operations) , which means that although earnings are smaller than before, KO requires less capital to produce each $1 of earnings.

Next Steps

ROCE for KO investors has grown in the last few years and is above a benchmark that makes the company a potentially attractive stock that can achieve a solid return on investment. This is an ideal situation to be in, but return on capital employed is a static metric that should be looked at in conjunction with other fundamental indicators like future prospects and valuation. If you don’t pay attention to these factors you cannot be sure if this trend will continue or if you are getting a good deal for the future returns you are paying for. If you’re interested in diving deeper, take a look at what I’ve linked below for further information on these fundamentals and other potential investment opportunities.

  1. Future Outlook: What are well-informed industry analysts predicting for KO’s future growth? Take a look at our free research report of analyst consensus for KO’s outlook.
  2. Valuation: What is KO worth today? Is the stock undervalued, even if its ROCE is factored into its intrinsic value? The intrinsic value infographic in our free research report helps visualize whether KO is currently mispriced by the market.
  3. Other High-Performing Stocks: Are there other stocks that provide better prospects with proven track records? Explore our free list of these great stocks here.

To help readers see past the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements.

The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned. For errors that warrant correction please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com.