Coca-Cola profit increases

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IOL image coke bottles CocaCola REUTERS File picture: Jacky Naegelen

Atlanta - Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest soft-drink maker, said fourth-quarter profit rose 13 percent as sales volumes gained in North America.

Net income climbed to $1.87 billion, or 41 cents a share, from $1.66 billion, or 36 cents, a year earlier, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said today in a statement.

Excluding some items, profit was 45 cents a share, compared with the 44-cent average of 13 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent has restructured bottling operations in the US, its most profitable market, to respond to consumer demand for healthier beverages and varied package sizes.

The company, which now bottles about 80 percent of its drink volume in the US, announced today it was paring the number of distribution regions in its bottling unit.

“Non-carbonated beverages will continue to grow faster than carbonated drinks in North America as Coke broadens its portfolio and consumers increasingly opt for healthier options,” Thomas Mullarkey, an analyst for Morningstar Inc. in Chicago, said before the results. Mullarkey has a three-star rating on the shares, equivalent to a hold.

Coca-Cola fell 0.4 percent to $38.61 yesterday in New York.

The shares had increased 6.5 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 6.4 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Revenue advanced 3.8 percent to $11.46 billion. Analysts estimated $11.5 billion. - Bloomberg

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