These times, they are a changing. We've heard that phrase used over and over again. Well, it is true again today. Beverage giant Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) lost its spot as the most valuable brand in the world as Interbrand, a corporate identity and brand consulting group, released its annual figures on Monday. This was the first time since the report was started in 2000 that Coca-Cola did not hold the top spot.
The Coca-Cola brand value still showed growth, rising by 2% to $79.2 billion. However, that was only good enough for third place on the list. Coca-Cola lost its top spot to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which saw its brand rise by 28% to more than $98.3 billion. Another large tech company, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), showed explosive growth, rocketing into the #2 spot at more than $93 billion.
Unless some currently unforeseen event occurs in the technology space, Coca-Cola is not going to gain its top spot back anytime soon. Being that Coca-Cola has only gained about $9 billion in brand value growth since 2010, it seems unlikely that it would jump about $20 billion next year, and that is assuming of course that Apple's brand stays the same. In that same three year period, Apple's brand has risen from $21 billion to $98 billion. Coca-Cola barely leads IBM (NYSE:IBM) for fourth place, a lead of around $400 million, so it is possible that Coca-Cola could drop another spot next year.
Coca-Cola versus Apple:
Let's face it, there's a big difference right now between consumer goods and technology. This year, Coca-Cola is only expected to do about $47.4 billion in annual revenues and $9 billion or so in profits. Apple, on the other hand, is expected to do about $170 billion in revenues for its September-2013 end fiscal year and probably a bit over $35 billion in net income.
Obviously, there is a great divide here. Coca-Cola will sell more "units", because soda at $1 a bottle means a high amount of unit sales, even though Q2 shipment volumes were down. Apple doesn't need to sell as many units as they sell iPhones for $600 or laptops for $2,000. Obviously, the shelf life of a 2-liter bottle of soda is much less than that of a cell phone or computer.
While this comparison seems rather obvious, it shows how times are changing. Technology is the now thing, which is why you'll see nine million iPhones sold in a weekend. The iPhone alone will generate almost twice as much in yearly revenues as the entire Coca-Cola company will. That's why you have a more valuable brand, as the financial power of Apple is much larger.
Why own Coca-Cola?
While Monday's news was a sign of the changing times, it really shouldn't change the way investors look at Coca-Cola. The company's brand is worth more than last year, and that is something to be positive about. It just happens that another company, one that has the largest market cap of any US stock, has passed it. That's not a fault of Coca-Cola, it is something Apple should be applauded for.
So for those holding shares of Coca-Cola for its great dividend history, Monday's news should not really affect you. In fact, the pullback may even provide an opportunity for you. In my latest Coca-Cola article, I stated to add more as we approach a 3% dividend yield. That comes at $37.33, a level only about 40 cents below Monday's lows. This stock may not have been a great play at $40 or $42, but at $38 it starts to become a bit more interesting.
Remember, you probably aren't holding Coca-Cola shares just because it has a large brand value. You are most likely owning shares for the growing revenues and earnings per share in one of the most respected and historic companies on this planet. A near 3% dividend yield is also a reason to own shares, and the company's buyback program adds more value for shareholders.
Coca-Cola lost its top brand value spot on Monday, but that's not a fault of the company. The beverage giant's brand still rose in value, but it was passed by Apple. Coca-Cola investors should not panic on this news, and should continue to add as the name approaches a 3% yield. Coca-Cola is still a great company and stock, but right now, Apple's brand is worth a little more. That's not a knock against the beverage giant.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
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