Comedian Zach Galifianakis summed it up fairly well in his appearance on Bill Maher’s HBO show last week, remarking that “food is going to be the new cigarettes.”
Whether or not Galifianakis is exaggerating, it’s fair to say that a growing number of people identify with that sentiment. Clearly, the rise of organic food shows that more and more people are becoming concerned with what they put into their bodies.
Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) has been one of the great growth stocks over the last few years. Since 2008, shares are up nearly 300%, and the company has been steadily expanding, opening new stores nearly every quarter.
One thing to note is that Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) doesn’t carry any of Coca-Cola’s key products. Not even Diet Coke. It does carry some of Coke’s juice brands, but the real value behind Coke as a company remains with its namesake products.
Some may be dismissive of the trend, but for those who truly believe we are experiencing a shift toward organic, it’s hard to be bullish on soda companies.
These shifts — concern about obesity, desire to go organic — are somewhat contained within North America, at least presently. The company’s international operations could therefore act as a backstop, limiting any downside Coke could face in its home market. Yet, according to the company’s most recent 10K, a full 45% of Coke’s operating revenue still comes from North America — Coke isn’t as international as many may believe.
The illusion of safety
I’m not advocating that anyone short Coke’s stock on the basis of the obesity epidemic, or dump Coke in favor of a risky company with a high multiple.
But I do think that real cracks are starting to form in The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO)’s business, and that Coke shares aren’t the safe investment many view them as. If the organic food craze really does start to affect middle America, Coke could soon face a bit of crisis — not one that will put the company under, but one that could surprise Coke’s shareholders.
The article What’s Up with That New Coke Commercial? originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Salvatore “Sam” Mattera.
Joe Kurtz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola, and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Whole Foods Market. Salvatore “Sam” is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network — entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
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