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Coca-Cola Enhances Annual Dividend

Zacks Equity Research

The board of directors of The Coca-Cola Company (KO) recently announced a 10% increase in the cola giant’s annual dividend. With this, the company has increased its dividend for 51 consecutive years.

The quarterly dividend was increased from 25.5 cents to 28 cents per common share, equivalent to an annual dividend of $1.12 per share, up from $1.02 per share in 2012. The new dividend will yield 3.0% annually. The first quarterly payout will be on Apr 1, 2013, to shareowners of record as of Mar 15, 2013.

Coca Cola boasts a solid cash position, which is being used to return value to shareholders through higher dividends and regular buybacks. In 2012, the company paid $4.6 billion in dividends and $4.5 billion in share repurchases, thus returning $9.1 billion to shareholders.

In addition, the company announced some management changes including the appointment of Ahmet C. Bozer and Steven A. Cahillane as Executive Vice Presidents of the company. While Bozer currently serves as president of the International segment, Cahillane holds the same position at the Americas segment.

Rival PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP) also announced a dividend increase recently at the fourth quarter conference call on Feb 14, 2013. The company increased its annual dividend rate by 5.6% to $2.27 per share from $2.15 per share. The increased dividend will be first paid in June this year.

Coca-Cola currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company reported mixed fourth quarter results on Feb 12, 2013. While the maker of popular beverages like Coke, Thums Up and Sprite beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings by a penny, it marginally missed the revenue estimate.

PepsiCo, on the other hand, reported impressive fourth quarter results beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate for both revenue and earnings. Moreover, the company provided an impressive outlook for 2013, which was in line with long-term targets. PepsiCo also carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some of Coca-Cola’s bottling companies are currently doing well and have a bright outlook. These include Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A (CCH) – Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy)and Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (CCE) - Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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