Coca-Cola sales beat estimates as China volumes soar

Global case volumes rose 2 per cent in the quarter, while those in China rose 12 per cent

Revenue fell 4 per cent to $10.58 billion during the quarter under review.

Revenue fell 4 per cent to $10.58 billion during the quarter under review.

Tue, Apr 15, 2014, 15:27

Coca-Cola reported better-than-expected quarterly revenue as strong sales in China more than offset a drop in Europe and flat volumes in North America.

Coke’s shares, which had fallen 3.4 per cent in the 12 months to Monday’s close, were up 3 per cent in early trading on Wall Street.

Global case volumes rose 2 per cent in the quarter, while those in China rose 12 per cent due to increased marketing around the Chinese New Year, the company said on Tuesday.

Coke does not break out China sales separately. The business falls under its Asia-Pacific region, the company’s second-biggest market by revenue. In 2013, the region accounted for 13 per cent of overall sales.

Sales in North America, the company’s biggest market, were stable despite an unusually cold winter and the general consumer shift away from fizzy drinks.

“Our North America Group delivered even volume versus the prior year quarter while gaining value share and maintaining volume share,” the company said in a statement.

Sales declined 4 per cent in Europe, but rose 6 per cent in both India and Russia.

“We’re beginning to get our momentum back ... ,” chief executive Muhtar Kent said on CNBC.

Mr Kent has been trying to boost profits by cutting costs, developing its non-soda brands and getting into new businesses.

The company bought a 10 per cent stake in single-cup coffee brewer Keurig Green Mountain - known for its K-cups - in February to help compete in the home soda-making market, dominated by Israel-based Sodastream International.

The partnership is looking to develop machines to dispense cold drinks such as juices and teas. Coke owns the Minute Maid juice brand and Honest Tea.

Coke has said it would invest cost savings in advertising and marketing to drive sales in 2014.

The company’s net income attributable to shareholders fell to $1.62 billion, or 36 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 28th from $1.75 billion, or 39 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings were 44 cents per share, matching the average analyst estimate.

Revenue fell 4 per cent to $10.58 billion.

Reuters