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Oct 21, 2014 8:17 AM

Coke profit, revenue fall on flat soda market

The Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) Coca-Cola reported a lower profit and revenue in the third quarter as global soda volume remained flat.

The world's biggest beverage maker announced a new plan that it said will reduce costs by $3 billion a year by 2019. For this year, the company said it expects earnings per share to miss its long-term target of high-single-digit growth.

Coke's stock fell nearly 4 percent in premarket trading.

Overall beverage volume for the quarter rose 1 percent, boosted by an increase in non-carbonated drinks. In its flagship North American market, the company saw soda and non-carbonated drinks each decline by 1 percent.

Earlier this month, PepsiCo said soda volume fell 1.5 percent for the quarter, while non-carbonated drinks rose slightly.

Coca-Cola Co.'s third-quarter net income fell 14 percent to $2.11 billion from $2.45 billion.

The company said it had profit of 48 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to 53 cents per share.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 52 cents per share.

Revenue was $11.98 billion in the period, which missed Street forecasts. Analysts expected $12.14 billion, according to Zacks.

Although Coca-Cola and rival PepsiCo sell a variety of other drinks, the two beverage giants are trying to figure out how to turnaround their flagship soda businesses. Americans have been cutting back on soft drinks over the past decade, in part because of concerns about sugar. More recently, executives have blamed concerns about the artificial sweeteners for even steeper declines in diet sodas.

For Coca-Cola, part of its strategy for fixing soda sales has been marketing smaller serving sizes. The mini-cans and bottles are marketed as a way to better control portions but are also more profitable for the company because they cost more per ounce. In the latest quarter, Coca-Cola said its focus on smaller sizes helped lift revenue for North America, even though volume declined.

To boost their financial performance amid slowing growth, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are also cutting costs.

Coca-Cola's shares fell $1.69, or 3.9 percent, to $41.60 in premarket trading.


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