Coca-Cola, the US soft drinks company, has said that concerns about a slowdown in emerging markets have been overblown, suggesting that Brazil appears ready to bounce back and that economies in other developing countries are relatively stable.
“Brazil got overheated, slowed down and is starting to come back,” Gary Fayard, Coke’s chief financial officer, said on Wednesday at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference. “In general, if you look at developing and emerging countries, we’re not seeing significant shifts.”
Analysts expressed some concern after Coke, in its latest quarter, reported flat sales volumes in Brazil and pointed to a backdrop of “moderating economic growth coupled with rising food inflation”.
“Is this simply a short-term issue/coincidence or is this the beginning of a longer-term trend of deceleration in emerging markets?” analysts at Bernstein Research asked.
US consumer companies, which have been relying on emerging markets to drive growth, have experienced changing dynamics in those regions recently as prices and wages rise.
In spite of its confidence in emerging markets, Coke has been cautious with its cash.
Coke had about $10bn in cash offshore last year, including $3bn in Brazil. Mr Fayard said that when there was a big swing in Brazil’s currency last fall because of fears about Europe, the company converted most of that cash into dollars and in other cases used derivatives to hedge.
“We’re analysing and covering those exposures all the time,” Mr Fayard said, noting that Coke hedged half of its cash in Brazil and all of its cash in Chile last year.