More than a week after reporting mixed results for the fourth quarter, Coca-Cola (KO) has brought some good news for shareholders. The beverage giant’s stock gained modestly Thursday after it announced a hike in the quarterly dividend, continuing the trend that began more than five decades ago.
An official statement showed the dividend was raised by 2.6% to $1.60 on an annualized basis. The revised dividend will be paid on April 1, 2019, to shareholders of record on March 15, 2019. In addition, the company increased its total share repurchase program to $650 million by authorizing an additional buyback of shares worth $150 million.
Coca-Cola’s shares had suffered one of the worst intraday falls earlier this week and slipped to a five-month low after the company’s unimpressive fourth-quarter results triggered a selloff. The stock, which reached a peak recently after witnessing heavy volatility, traded higher throughout Thursday’s regular session.
The company raised its share repurchase program to $650 million by authorizing an additional buyback of shares worth $150 million
Separately, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company announced the retirement of Richard Daley from its board of directors, ending an eight-year stint. Daley reportedly decided not to stand for re-election at the upcoming meeting. After his retirement, the board will have 13 members.
In the fourth quarter, Coca-Cola’s revenues dropped 6% to $7.06 billion amid continuing weakness in markets outside North America. Meanwhile, adjusted earnings rose to $0.43 per share and matched estimates. Though the management predicts higher organic growth for 2019, Americans’ growing aversion to carbonated drinks and the mass shift to healthier alternatives could weigh down on sales in the coming months.
Worryingly, the trend is spreading to the other markets, mainly developed countries. Meanwhile, there is skepticism among the stakeholders about the prospects of the company’s ongoing diversification to non-soda drinks like juices, bottled water, and tea. With sales volumes showing no meaningful increase in recent quarters, the new products might not be sufficient to offset the slump in the sale of core products.
Experts believe that the top-line performance will improve once the company completes the re-franchising of its bottling operations.
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