Coke stocks: 3 great investment advice from warren buffett.

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One fine day in 1937, A grandfather who was a grocery store owner was approached by his 7-year-old grandson for a business deal to sell soft drinks aka carbonated drinks for the people who sit on their lawn to cool off the heat.

Remember, this was a time when no Air conditioning was invented. So the grandfather agreed to the deal and give his grandson 6 bottles of drinks for a quarter dollar. Every time the boy went to sell, his products were sold off.

Also, the boy collected bottle caps from the nearby gas stations where they had coolers with an opener attached to them. He collected around 8000 caps in a week. Most of them were found to be coke. He understands the edge Coke had in the soft drinks market.

A seven-year-old boy identifying business opportunities around him is completely unusual & extraordinary, isn’t it?

But he admits he had done one mistake, the profits he made from selling cokes didn’t use to buy coke stocks at that time. 

Later he rectified the mistake in 1988 by buying a huge position in coco cola shares.

That 7-year-old boy is none other than legendary investor Warren Buffett. From time to time, the investment advice from warren buffett we hear seems to be simple to follow, logical but its easy to lose focus in the rush for quick gains.

This article focus on warren buffett advice on investment will help you stay to focused and reasonable to have an extraordinary investing life.

Coke Story: Investment advice from warren buffett

How did Buffett start his investment in coke stocks?


The stock market crash of 1987 had beaten down US stock prices badly. Though the market crash originated in the US, this event impacted the major other stock markets across the globe.

coke stocks
October 29, 1987 Newspaper Image Source: google

On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell by 508 points or by 22.6 percent followed by crashes in future exchanges and options market. This was the largest percentage drop in one day up to this point in history.

It caused fear among the investors, all the stocks were sold off regardless of their strong business fundamentals.

An opportunity for Investment:

The market crash created attractive opportunities for investors.

Coco cola stock was hit hard by the market crash along with many other stocks.

From Buffet’s point of view, Coco cola business enjoyed the iconic brand name among the customers, retail relationships. It can easily cater its products to various countries with its strong distribution network. So, it will be very hard for its competitor to take away its market share sooner.

Buffett started his position on Coco-Cola stock from 1988 to 1989 buying over 23 million shares.

But Buffett taking a big position in coke is considered risky, whereas other investors were still nervous about the market crash in 1987.

cocacola dividend

In the 1988 annual Berkshire letter to shareholders Buffett defend his position by quoting “In 1988 we made major purchases of Federal Home Loan Mortgage … and Coca Cola. We expect to hold these securities for a long time. In fact, when we own portions of outstanding businesses with outstanding managements, our favorite holding period is forever,” said Buffett.

Read more about Warren Buffett investment advice stands true today

Coke stocks price – Average:

Buffett started buying Coco cola shares in 1988 post the aftermath of the 1987 market crash.

By the end of 1988, Buffett owned 14,172,500 shares which cost $592.54 million

In 1989, he bought an additional 9, 177,500 shares for $431.38 million.

By the end of 1989, he owned 23.3 million shares which he had bought for $1.023 billion.

Coke stocks price average stood at $43.81 (Purchase price in 1988 was $41.81 and in 1989, the purchase price was $47)

Buffett owned 6.2 percent of the company. In 1989, Berkshire Hathway’s book value stood at $4.9 billion, It means coke comprised 20.8 percent of Berkshire’s net assets.

It was a bold move from Buffett post the market crash. Willingness to take courageous moves during times of uncertainty makes Warren buffet the Legend in investing.

In 1994, he took stakes in Coco cola once again bringing his ownership to 100 million shares at the time.

Coco Cola stock history split

Since the time Buffett invested in coke, it had given him 2 stock split.

As of 12/31/1994 Berkshire holds 100 million shares in Coco-Cola.

First Coke stock split

On 5/1/1996 – Coke stock split 2 for 1 – 200 million shares.

Second coke stock split

On 7/27/2012 – Coke stock split 2 for 1 – 400 million shares.

Coco cola Dividend paid to Warren since 1990

Coke paid dividends to its shareholders every quarter, for simplicity’s sake I have considered yearly.

Year Shares Dividend per share Dividend value
1990 23000000 1 23000000
1991 23000000 0.96 22080000
1992 23000000 0.7 16100000
1993 23000000 0.68 15640000
1994 100000000 0.78 78000000
1995 100000000 0.88 88000000
1996A 100000000 0.25 25000000
1996B 200000000 0.375 75000000
1997 200000000 0.56 112000000
1998 200000000 0.6 120000000
1999 200000000 0.64 128000000
2000 200000000 0.68 136000000
2001 200000000 0.72 144000000
2002 200000000 0.8 160000000
2003 200000000 0.88 176000000
2004 200000000 1 200000000
2005 200000000 1.12 224000000
2006 200000000 1.24 248000000
2007 200000000 1.36 272000000
2008 200000000 1.52 304000000
2009 200000000 1.64 328000000
2010 200000000 1.76 352000000
2011 200000000 1.88 376000000
2012A 200000000 1.02 204000000
2012B 400000000 0.51 204000000
2013 400000000 1.12 448000000
2014 400000000 1.22 488000000
2015 400000000 1.32 528000000
2016 400000000 1.4 560000000
2017 400000000 1.48 592000000
2018 400000000 1.56 624000000
2019 400000000 1.6 640000000
2020 400000000 1.64 656000000
2021 400000000 1.68 672000000
2022 400000000 0.44 176000000
Dividends earned

Note: The years 1996, and 2012 have two entries. The reason behind this is coke stock splits.

In 1996, the first coke stock split was done in May month. In the previous quarter of the same year, only 23 million shares were held & its dividend is captured in 1996 A. Remaining dividend post the stock split is captured in 1996 B.

Likewise in 2012 second stock split was done in July month. Considering the previous quarter, only 200 million shares were held & its dividend is captured on 2012 A. Remaining dividend post the stock split on 2012B.

The total dividend earned by Mr. Buffett by holding Coke stocks is a whopping 9.4 billion USD as of 2022.

Read about: How much dividends ITC paid since its IPO

Favors of Long-term investing:

At the end of 1994, Buffett held 100 million shares which are at the cost basis of 1.3 billion. Since then, he hasn’t sold any of his holding in coke.

After the two-time KO stock split, overall ownership of in coke stocks is 400 million shares. Now the coke stocks price is hovering at 64.08 dollars per share. That brings about 24.3 billion dollars, which leaves with an unrealized gain of 23 billion dollars.

As of 2022, Berkshire holds 9.2 percent of Coca-Cola’s company ownership.

This accounts only for capital appreciation of Buffett’s investment in coke, without considering the generous coca cola dividend paid by coke almost every quarter.

Investing philosophy

Buffett, an ardent follower of Benjamin Graham’s value investing approach buying bad companies at a good price (cigar-butt investing), changed his investing approach.

The change in Buffett’s investment thinking was influenced by his well-known right-hand man “Charlie Munger”.  Munger is a strong advocator for “Buying wonderful companies at a fair price”.

Also, the size of Buffett’s portfolio grew large, and continuing to buy cigar butt stocks becomes inefficient.

Why did he choose coke stocks?

Coco cola has a fascinating history. Originally in the 1880s Coke began as a patented medicine drinker went on to become an established brand in the US by 1940.

By 1980 coco-cola becomes an established global brand. As per their annual report, 65 percent of revenues came outside of the United States.

Coo cola leveraged the Olympics and used the sport, athletes in its growth strategy.

“There will be ads galore, a Coke-presented Olympic Torch relay, even a Coke theme park in downtown Atlanta. “Three things have been constant at the Olympics since 1928 — the athletes, the fans, and Coca-Cola,” said Sergio Zyman, chief marketing officer at Coke. “We are utilizing the Olympics to enhance the value of our brands and the value of our investment.”

Coke didn’t bother to spend money on advertising.

But Coke had its rival Pepsi. “Pepsi challenge” campaign where consumers were blindfolded and chose to say which drink tasted better.  This campaign became immensely successful. Pepsi was able to steal the share of the coke market.

Executives of the coke were troubled. Robert Goizueta, the coke CEO, was angry by the loss of market share.

He was an exceptional leader who is ready to fail fast, innovative. He sold some of the coke businesses which were not working well for it. Example: wine business, the beer business.

He focused on generating a high return on capital and cutting down the loss-making or less ROCE business.

He launched failures like “Tab “, “New coke” which received a protest from the consumers. Among the failures, there was the massive success of “diet coke”, “Coke Classic” (Original one),” cherry coke” Buffett’s favorite drink.

Goizueta took the coke to global reach until the international segment provided 80 percent of the company’s overall profits by 1966.

Overall, Warren Buffett paid a bit of a premium for coke stock than he used to invest with (buying beat-down stocks). Buffett achieved superior returns from investing in coke stocks, meanwhile the company was led by a fierce leader and had a dominant brand in the soft drinks segment.

Warren buffett advice on investment approach

If the investor must learn anything from Warren’s coke investment success. Then they are:

  1. Look for companies which you can understand, but it has the potential to grow domestic and international markets as well.
  2. Great Management that chases high ROCE and growth.
  3. An undisputable brand name.

If the above points are implemented precisely, your chance of holding the stocks becomes forever too.

The longer you hold on to great investments, generating outstanding returns becomes easier.

Finding companies that grow at the higher return of capital employed is relatively easier than finding the stock at a reasonable price. Also, reasonable price varies from investor to investor.

But we can find good stocks at a much lesser price in times of uncertainty. Buying stocks in large quantities at those times sets the stage for investors to generate high returns.

Saying this is easier than done. We need to study history to avoid the mistakes of past and the investment advice from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are need to be adopted.

Thank you for reading this far, if you have any comments or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach me through the mail.

Let us catch up at the next post, till then take care & stay safe. Happy Investing!

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