Coca-Cola Co Earnings Call Insights: Global Macro and Incremental Spending

Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Global Macro

Bill Schmitz – Deutsche Bank Research: Muhtar, I know you have been doing a lot of globe-hopping lately, so can you just talk about sort of the global macro, maybe some granularity about regional growth rates? I know you were at (indiscernible) Davos, just to give us some color on how you think things are going to trend over the next year. I know you kind of covered it big picture, but maybe some more granularity?

Muhtar Kent – Chairman and CEO: Bill, I think – I’ve recently been to Korea, to Australia – in the last 10 days to also Southern Russia, in Sochi but I think essentially in Europe, there is a sentiment there that people are beginning to feel that it’s not going to get any worse, that there will be some expansion happening as we move forward instead of just purely fiscal restraint and monetary restraint so there is that feeling beginning to emerge, but I think it’s going to be a long recovery. Certainly in China, we’re seeing the transition happen, from a purely export led economy to one that is more balanced with consumer spending and a combination of consumer spending as well as export led balanced economy. I think there were some challenges in that transition initially where there was a divergence between GDP growth and pure disposable incomes for a while, but I think long-term that’s going to be very beneficial for everyone, this transition in China. I think in general, Japan is going to also, I think the consumer sentiment will continue to be modeled and volatile there and it’s subdued. The rest of the world, whether it’s Africa, the youngest billion; Latin America, Eurasia, Middle East, we see – and of course Asia, Southeast Asia and other parts of Asia, Indian subcontinent, we see growth, we see very disciplined monetary policy, balanced budgets, good banking system and the consumer is more positive and so, it’s modeled in this mix and here in the United States, we see some signs of improvement. We need to wait and evaluate the impact of the payroll taxes as well as the higher gasoline prices. It’s too early to say, but it’s a recovery, that is at best lukewarm, but we feel that it could get better. That’s how we see the world and based on that we continue to invest for opportunity, we continue to invest based on our long-term models and plans with our bottling partners to continue to generate both, volume, top line and income growth.

Bill Schmitz – Deutsche Bank Research: Then can I just follow-up with the change in the structure of CCR North America? Does this change your sort of philosophy on sort of how long you’re going to own the asset and maybe how it’s going to be operated going forward?