Coca-Cola is offering shareholders a two-for-one split for their stock.
Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent announced the recommendation Wednesday at the company's annual shareholder meeting at the Cobb Galleria, eliciting a rousing round of applause from the roughly 600 people gathered.
Kent said the share split would be the 11th in the 92-year history of the company's stock and the first time the company offered the split since 1996.
Stock splits are seen as ways to create excitement about a company's stock -- and reduce how much it costs to buy a share -- but it doesn't directly change the value of a company or the value of a person's overall stock holdings.
“Our recommended two-for-one stock split reflects the board of directors’ continued confidence in the long-term growth and financial performance of our company,” Kent said earlier in a statement.
Shareholders will vote on the split at a special meeting in early July. The company said the split, if approved, will take place July 27.
The shareholder meeting was kicked off by a videotaped message from billionaire Warren Buffett, whose company, Berkshire Hathaway, is one of Coke's leading shareholders, and a visit by will.i.am of pop group The Black Eyed Peas.
As is tradition, the atmosphere was equal parts pep rally for the beverage giant's supporters and a protest for its detractors. Protesters shouted a choreographed "Point of order. You lie!" at least have a dozen times as Kent made remarks about everything from the company's commitment to diversity (it's currently embroiled in a discrimination lawsuit in New York) or accusations of worker intimidation in Mexico.
Kent denied the allegations.
Kristin Urquiza, campaign director of Think Outside the Bottle, a program of Boston-based activist group Corporate Accountability International, told Kent that Coke is generating 30 percent of the nation's waste stream with discarded bottled waterbottles and "creating a world where our most essential resource is being bought and sold for profit."
"Coca-Cola paints itself as a corporation that is leading solutions to health and environmental problems we're facing as a society, but in action nothing could be further from the truth," she said.
Kent responded that drinking bottled water was a choice and that the company was proud of its efforts to reduce waste through products like the plant bottle used for Dasani, which is made up of 30 percent plant materials.
"It's freedom of choice," he said. "That's what this country was built on."