No, Ronaldo Didn’t Wipe Billions From Coke’s Value

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The power of celebrity is on full display at Euro 2020, the European soccer tournament that finally kicked off on June 11 after being delayed a year because of the pandemic. Take Exhibit A: Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese legend who has been the top goal scorer in three of the world’s best leagues and became the leading scorer in the Euro tournament history with two goals in a victory over Hungary Tuesday. His endorsement is worth millions—$100 million this year alone, to be specific, according to an analysis by Sportico.

Judging by the sports press this week, Ronaldo is even more powerful than that. Simply by moving two Coke bottles off a podium at a pre-game press conference Monday and telling attendees ‘Agua!’ Ronaldo wiped billions off of Coke’s market cap- according to multiple media outlets.

But it’s not true.

Cola-Cola shares trade in New York, where the exchange opens at 9:30 am local time. Ronaldo’s press conference began at 3:45 pm Central European Time, which is 9:45 am in New York.

If Ronaldo’s press conference started at that time (and UEFA twice confirmed it did), then his spurning of the beverage that made Ty Cobb rich should be readily apparent in its stock chart.

The problem for the all-powerful Ronaldo story is that Coke was already down 0.9% in trading between 9:30 and 9:44 am, according to the trading charts. Coke closed Friday’s trading at $55.74 and opened Monday lower. By 9:44 am, Coke shares had fallen to $54.25, a loss of $2.1 billion off its market cap already—before Ronaldo even spied the sugary drink.

Based on the trading charts, Coke actually traded higher after the press event began (maybe because Ronaldo touched the bottles?!), slipping to $55.21 five minutes in and not hitting its low for the day of $55.20 until 10:20 am EDT.

So why does everyone think Ronaldo moved markets? Well, it’s an eye-catching story, and there’s little doubt consumer products do benefit from high-profile endorsements (most famously, E.T.’s love of Reese’s Pieces allowed the brand to compete with M&Ms).

Or maybe it’s because stock quotes are typically transmitted on a 20-minute delay to mainstream news sites because exchanges charge for delivery of immediate prices and most websites opt not to pay. That means anyone glancing at Coke’s price after Ronaldo’s move of the soda would think it’s an immediate drop in Coke’s price when in fact it happened much earlier.

Plus, if Ronaldo really has so much influence, why has he slashed the asking price on his Manhattan condo?

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