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Coca-Cola Enterprises Q4 Profit Tops View, Revenues Match; Backs 2013 Outlook

Coca-Cola Enterprises Q4 Profit Tops View, Revenues Match; Backs 2013 Outlook
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Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc. (CCE: Quote), Europe's largest bottler of Coca-Cola Co. (KO) beverages, reported Thursday a profit for the fourth quarter that edged down from last year, hurt by restructuring charges.

Stripping down the charges, adjusted earnings per share topped analysts' expectations by a penny, while quarterly revenues matched their estimates. The company also reaffirmed its earnings and revenue growth guidance for the full-year 2013.

The Atlanta, Georgia-based company reported net income of $100 million or $0.34 per share for the fourth quarter, down from $113 million or $0.36 per share in the prior-year quarter.

Excluding items, comparable net income for the quarter was $131 million or $0.45 per share, compared to $116 million or $0.36 per share in the year-ago quarter.

On average, 12 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $0.44 per share for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Net operating revenues for the quarter grew 1 percent to $1.92 billion from $1.89 billion in the same quarter last year, and matched ten Wall Street analysts' consensus estimate of $1.92 billion.

The company's revenues grew 2 percent on a currency neutral basis, and was flat on a currency neutral basis excluding the impact of the French excise tax increase.

Volumes for the quarter declined 5.5 percent, driven by ongoing challenging conditions and cycling strong growth in the prior year, with volume in continental Europe declining 5.5 percent, and volume in Great Britain decreasing 6 percent.

Net pricing per case grew 4 percent and cost of sales per case increased 3.5 percent, both excluding the impact of the French excise tax increase.

On Tuesday, the company approved a 25 percent increase in its regular quarterly dividend to $0.20 per share, payable on March 21 to shareowners of record March 8, 2013.

For fiscal 2012, the company reported net income of $677 million or $2.25 per share, lower than $749 million or $2.29 per share in the prior year.

Excluding items, comparable net income for the year was $749 million or $2.29 per share, compared to $715 million or $2.18 per share in the year ago. Analysts expected the company to report earnings of $2.14 per share for fiscal 2012.

Net operating revenues for the full year declined 2.5 percent to $8.06 billion from $8.28 billion in the previous year. Street was looking for full-year 2012 revenues of $8.07 billion. Revenues were up 3 percent on a currency neutral basis.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2013, the company continues to expect comparable and currency neutral earnings per share growth of about 10 percent, on projected net sales and operating income growth in a mid-single-digit range. Analysts expect the company to report full-year 2013 earnings of $2.51 per share, on annual revenues of $8.51 billion.

"We remain confident in our ability to restore, over time, our sales and operating income growth to levels in line with our long-term targets. Our optimism is fueled by the popularity of our brands, the effectiveness of our marketplace initiatives, the benefits of our Business Transformation Program, and the skill and dedication of our people," Chairman and CEO John Brock said.

CCE closed Wednesday's regular trading session at $34.90, up $0.45 on a volume of 3.80 million shares. In the past 52-week period, the stock has been trading in a range of $26.05 to $35.48.

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by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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