I recently wondered whether Coke could be worth 46 times trailing earnings. My guess was, and is, that the stock is “ahead of itself.” But to emphasize how much it is only a guess, consider this:

Coke is divided into about 2.5 billion shares, each selling for about $70. Call it $175 billion and change for the whole thing.

Is it not possible that 20 years from now, with 7.5 billion people on the planet, Coke will be able to earn an average profit of 3 cents a day from each one? Surely in “developed markets” people average more than one Coke-owned beverage per day, in one form or another (Coke, Sprite, Minute Maid, etc. — even Fruitopia is theirs, no?). And surely 3 cents — a number I picked out of the air because it’s small and because multiplied by 365 days it rounds nicely to $10 — is not an impossible net profit to make per quaff.

So what would that mean? It would mean profits of $75 billion a year, which at even 20 times earnings (say) — down sharply from its current high multiple — would yield a market cap of $1.5 trillion. For Coke’s market cap to grow from $175 billion today to $1.5 trillion over 20 years would be for the stock to grow at 11.3% a year. Not bad. And if Coke could earn a dime per capita, and get there within 15 years (a lot can happen in 15 years; it was just about 15 years ago that IBM brought out its first PC), then at 20 times earnings you’ve got a market cap of nearly $5 trillion and a growth in the stock from today’s prices of 25% a year.

So maybe Coke’s a bargain. Who knows?

Not me.

Meanwhile, in answer to someone’s question about finding historical stock quotes, I suggested www.quote.com. And that’s fine, but do you know what I just noticed? If you sign on to AOL (which I’ve not found as impossible most of the time as it’s cracked up to be), and if you choose Personal Finance and then Quotes and then Historical Quotes, you can get quite a range of back prices — charted by week or month, or “custom,” where you can set a date range of just a few days, one of which will be the specific one you’re after.

I didn’t check to see how far back the prices go, but I did check some of my harder-to-find symbols — foreign stocks and stuff like that, and was pleasantly surprised to see that they do come up on AOL’s free Quotes service, although only for current prices, not historical prices.

If you’re an AOL subscriber, or your daughter is, check it out.

 

 

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