At first glance, the town of Quincy in Florida has nothing special about it. It seems like any other town found across southern America. But dig a little deeper and you will find that Quincy was once the richest town per capita in the United States. This was all thanks to the beverage giant that is Coca Cola.
In the midst of the Great Depression of the ’20s and ’30s, a banker named Pat Munroe noticed that even during the depths of the Great Depression, otherwise impoverished people would spend their last nickel to buy a glass of Coca-Cola. At the time, the Coca-Cola company was trading for less than cash in the bank, and shares were remarkably cheap. The reason for this was simple: the stock had crashed from the IPO price of $40 to close to $20 due to a conflict with the sugar industry and legal ramblings with its bottles.
Munroe was smart enough to realise that the problems facing Coca Cola were short-term and the company still had good returns on capital and kept on churning cash. He saw that Coca Cola was earning over $10 a share in 1929; the start of the wall street crash. In the proceeding years, the companies income generation remained largely intact. By 1933, in the midst of the great recession, Coke was still able to earn well over $8 a share and generate almost 20% returns on equity. Just like the company, the dividends kept chugging along moving from $4.90 a share in 1929 to $6.00 a share in 1933. How many stocks can boast a record of increasing their dividends during the depression years? Munroe took the opportunity to load up on Coca Cola shares at a once in generation valuation and encouraged others within Quincy to do the same.
This one move by Munroe has made this story the stuff of legends. The dividends sent by Coca Cola to the residents of Quincy would protect the entire town through the Great Depression. It has also supported the town in “every recession since”, according to the man who now runs the trust department in the bank that was once headed by Munroe.
When crops failed – in the mostly farming town of Quincy – it was the Coca-Cola dividend that kept people employed. When the national economy collapsed, it was the Coca-Cola dividend that allowed people to stay in their homes. When times were good, and Coke was cheap, more shares were purchased. A total of 67 millionaires were created in the town that Coke built before the shares were passed on to children, grandchildren and other family members.
The decisions made by Munroe and the people that followed him paid off in a staggering way. The children and grand children of the secret Coca Cola millionaires are set for life with this source of passive income. Consider this, a single share of Coca Cola bought would be worth over £10,000,000 (with dividends reinvested). The share would be throwing out over £350,000 a year in dividend income. That I repeat again is ONE share. A single decision can truly change your life for generation to come.
This is exactly what people mean when they say it only takes one good idea in life to get rich. And once you are rich, you never have to do it, again. There are few things that can reward you as much as ownership of a great asset can.