Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey — who is a recent addition to the board of Pfizer — thinks the U.S. will see a rapid economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic this year as it leads in vaccination rates compared to countries overseas.
"I know this time last year, we had a number of discussions about an alphabet soup of different shapes of recovery. Very specifically in the U.S., I think the rate of vaccination is clearly going to bring a reopening that's going to be relatively rapid in the U.S. And there is a good deal of stimulus money there, so I think we are going to see a good recovery into the balance of the year in 2021 in the U.S. and hopefully, that will drive momentum into 2022 as well," Quincey tells Yahoo Finance Live.
The sharp improvement in the U.S. economy from the start of the year has begun to turn the tide for Coke.
Coke easily beat first quarter Wall Street sales and profit forecasts on Monday, powered by demand for zero sugar drinks and cost cuts. While the company credited its performance to still elevated sales to people spending more time at home during the pandemic, it warned sales at on-premise places such as restaurants and sporting venues remain weak.
Economic recovery in markets outside of the U.S. remains mixed, too.
"From a global business perspective for Coke, we make the vast majority of our money outside the U.S. and so we are also looking at what do those vaccinations and adaptations look like in other developed and developing countries and what does that mean to the degree of the lockdown and business going forward. Globally I think we are going to see hopefully a steady, progression through the year. It's not going to be as quick as the U.S. will be," Quincey explained.
Despite the unknowns, Coke is staying upbeat in its outlook for investors.
The company reiterated its full-year sales outlook for a high-single digit percentage year-over-year gain. Earnings growth continues to be pegged at high-single digits to low-double digits.
Coke shares are up slightly in afternoon trading Monday.
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