In the early 1970s, a fierce rivalry emerged between PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, fueled by a series of attention-grabbing advertisements.
This holiday season, the intense competition persists, but only one can come out as the victor.
In 2023, beverage companies in the U.S. faced stock challenges due to increased interest rates and concerns about the impact of weight loss drugs.
Coca-Cola, with a market cap of $242 billion (outpacing Pepsi by roughly $20 billion), and Pepsi both exceeded Wall Street expectations for third-quarter earnings results.
The company attributed its optimistic outlook to high product demand, while Pepsi's improved cost management influenced its full-year earnings projection to improve.
However, only Coca-Cola demonstrated volume growth — an important measure amid a pause in price hikes by food and beverage companies.
The company's overall volume increased by 2%, whereas Pepsi reported flat beverage volume and a 1.5% decline in food volume.
These differences were particularly evident in North America, with Coca-Cola reporting flat volume and Pepsi's North American beverage unit experiencing a 6% volume drop.
Pepsi Might Start Leading the Showdown
While Coke leads, analysts predict its rival may be on its way to take the crown.
Wall Street analysts, led by Kaumil Gajrawala of Jefferies, have given PepsiCo a strong vote of confidence, saying it may be the most durable business in the sector.
Gajrawala predicts PepsiCo's shares will go up more than 20% in the next year, reaching $203, making its market value about $279 billion.
This is higher than Coca-Cola, which is rated a hold with a $64 target and has a market value of about $277 billion.
The potential change may mark monumental goals for PepsiCo, as it hasn't been valued more than Coca-Cola since 2006, and only surpassed its rival for a day in 2020.
PepsiCo Is Leading the Snacks Market
Coca-Cola, with a market value of about $246 billion, has been on top due to a strong brand and consistent sales growth. However, PepsiCo's diverse food business, with brands like Lay's and Doritos, has become a key difference.
While Coca-Cola focuses only on drinks, PepsiCo's mix of products makes it a more resilient competitor, especially during economic downturns.
While analysts still prefer Coca-Cola, which gives it a higher rating, Gajrawala sees PepsiCo as the leader in terms of earnings over the next three years.