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Coca-Cola Profit Rises, Tops View On Volume Growth

Beverages giant Coca-Cola Co. (KO: Quote) sold more drinks in the first quarter across all geographies, registering an 8 percent growth in profit. Earnings per share topped analysts' estimates, sending the company's shares up by more than a percent in pre-market trading.

Worldwide volumes grew 5 percent, reflecting growth in all five geographic operating groups of the company.

North America volume grew 2 percent, International volume growth was 6 percent and Europe sold 1 percent more in the quarter.

Atlanta, Georgia-based Coca Cola said it continued to see growth in sparkling beverages, with global volume growth of 4 percent. Brand Coca-Cola volume grew 4 percent in the quarter.

Worldwide still beverage volume growth was 9 percent, with growth across most beverage categories, including packaged water, ready-to-drink tea and coffee, energy drinks and sports drinks.

Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola Co. said in a statement, "Despite a continued mixed global environment, our hardworking teams achieved broad-based volume and value share gains in nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverages globally, with volume growth across every geographic operating group and revenue growth ahead of our long-term growth target."

Coca-Cola's net income for the first quarter was $2.05 billion or $0.89 per share, up from $1.90 billion or $0.82 per share in the prior-year quarter.

On average, 14 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $0.87 per share. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Net operating revenues for the quarter increased 6 percent to $11.14 billion, topping analysts' consensus of $10.83 billion.

Looking ahead, the company said that its productivity and reinvestment program with incremental annualized savings of $550 million to $650 million by the end of 2015 is on track.

In mid-February, Coca-Cola said its board of directors approved the company's 50th consecutive annual dividend increase, raising the quarterly dividend 8.5 percent to $0.51 per common share from the previous $0.47 per share.

The company returned $8.6 billion to shareowners in 2011, through $4.3 billion in dividends and $4.3 billion in share repurchases.

KO closed Monday's trading at $72.44. In Tuesday's pre-market, the stock is adding $1.07 or 1.48 percent to $73.51.

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by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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