Coca-Cola beats Q1 estimates but warns of rocky road ahead

Net revenue rose 5% to $9.02bn though some markets seeing surge in Covid-19 cases

Coca-Cola said increased vaccine availability was boosting sales in some markets. Photograph:  Karen Bleier/AFP

Coca-Cola said increased vaccine availability was boosting sales in some markets. Photograph: Karen Bleier/AFP

 

Coca-Cola Co beat estimates for quarterly results on Monday as sales in Asia picked up following the reopening of stores and restaurants. But the beverage maker warned of a rocky road ahead due to growing Covid-19 cases in some markets.

The beverage maker said volumes, a key demand indicator, returned to 2019 levels in March as accelerated vaccinations paved the way for the reopening of economies.

Shares of the Atlanta-based company rose about 1 per cent in morning trading.

“Whilst we’ve got back above the line of flotation in March, there’s no guarantee there won’t be some extra degree of lockdowns in May or September or December that then puts pressure back on the business,” chief executive officer James Quincey told analysts.

In the past few weeks, Latin America and Africa have slowed down vaccine distribution and India, one of the best-performing regions in the first quarter, is seeing a surge in cases and has put in place localised lockdowns.

“The reality is that there are more cases now than there were a while ago. We still feel very confident... but there’s a lot of managing left to do,” Mr Quincey said.

Net revenue rose about 5 per cent to $9.02 billion (€7.5 billion) for the quarter ended April 2nd – the first increase after four quarters of declines – beating the average analyst estimate of $8.63 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

On an adjusted basis, Coca-Cola earned 55 cents per share, 5 cents more than estimates.

Coca-Cola is now seeking a place in more pantries through single-serve multipacks, smaller packaging, refills and returnable glass bottles.

“There’s been a lot of underlying progress and Coke’s brand is definitely strong enough to carry the group to a recovery,” Hargreaves Lansdown William Ryder said.

Coca-Cola also separately announced plans to list its African bottling operations, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), as a publicly traded company. As part of the IPO, Coca-Cola will sell a portion of its 66.5 per cent stake in CCBA. – Reuters