The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a great place for investors to go shopping It's a collection of some of the largest, most successful businesses on the planet, and the group covers a wide range of industries and selling models.
From time to time, some of the stocks in this esteemed group fall out of favor on Wall Street as investors shift their attention to other sectors. That's the right time to take a closer look for bargains. Coca-Cola(NYSE: KO), for example, is in negative territory so far this year (down 5%) despite having posted solid results to date. Let's look at some big reasons to like this stock right now.
1. Coke is seeing sales gains
While many consumer-facing companies are showing weaker sales growth trends lately, Coke isn't having that problem. Organic sales gains were 11% this past quarter, outpacing PepsiCo's (NASDAQ: PEP) 9% boost in its beverage segment. Sure, Coke's sales volumes were flat, meaning all of its gains came from higher prices, but that's a common issue among consumer staples companies right now.
Coke is enjoying strong demand for core brands like Coke Zero, but also in niches including sports drinks, energy drinks, and bottled waters. That success convinced management to raise its 2023 sales outlook in late July. "I am encouraged that our all-weather strategy ... has delivered strong second quarter results," CEO James Quincey said in a press release.
2. Profits are sparkling
Look into Coke's financial strength and you'll find even more to be excited about. Non-GAAP (adjusted) profit margin rose to 32% of sales from 31% a year ago thanks to price increases and cost cuts. That's more than double Pepsi's comparable result.
Operating cash flow has been a blazing $4.6 billion through the first half of the fiscal year, or roughly 20% of sales. In that same period, the beverage titan achieved a 20% boost in net income, up to $5.6 billion.
Per-share earnings improved to $1.31 per share from $1.08 per share in the year-ago six-month period, and all during a time in which costs were spiking and consumers were becoming more cautious in their spending. Coke's success in this environment says good things about its potential during the next cyclical upturn.
3. The stock looks tasty
Investors get a chance to own all of those tasty assets at a discount today. Coke shares are currently valued at 6 times sales, down from a 2023 high of nearly 7. The stock looks attractive on a price-to-earnings basis, too. Coke costs 25 times earnings right now, down from a P/E of 30 a year ago.
There's more. Coke pays a generous dividend, and one that's been growing for decades. This payout currently yields just over 3%, adding instant income to this investment. Coke also returns cash to shareholders through stock repurchase spending. It will have plenty of resources to fund both of these projects as management is projecting nearly $10 billion of free cash flow this year.
Altogether, the positives make Coke look like a great investment today, and the cheaper stock price means investors have an even better chance at seeing solid returns by holding it in their portfolio over the long term.
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Demitri Kalogeropoulos has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2024 $47.50 calls on Coca-Cola. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.