Fizz in Coca-Cola earnings as dollar proves less of a burden

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COCA-COLA Enterprises reported quarterly earnings yesterday that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by share buybacks, and said the stronger dollar was less of a drag than previously expected.

Economic weakness in Europe still hurt sales. The company operates a bottling plant in Wakefield, the biggest of its kind in the world outside South America.

The company also said it was restructuring parts of its finance and sales operations and will take charges of about £123m. It did not say how many job cuts would be included in the restructuring.

The bottler of Coca-Cola beverages said net income fell to $263m, or 89 cents a share, in the third quarter, from $284m, or 88 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time tax-related items, a change in the value of commodity hedges and restructuring charges, earnings were 71 cents a share, compared with the average analyst estimate of 69 cents.

Sales fell 3.3 per cent to $2.07bn, hurt by the impact of the stronger dollar. The company does all of its business in Europe, so the strengthening of the US dollar reduces the value of its revenue and profit.

“We continue to manage each element of our business, including our operating plans, operating costs, and our balance sheet, to drive growth even as we face the challenges of ongoing macroeconomic weakness,” said John Brock, chairman and chief executive.

“Going forward, dynamic and persistent marketplace challenges will demand even greater efficiency, flexibility, and effectiveness,” he said.

“We are committed to taking the steps necessary... to continue to serve customers and consumers at the highest levels, grow our business, and create long-term shareowner value.”

Coca Cola Enterprise is investing £100m to develop the bottling plant in Wakefield, which employs 520 people.

Work is underway on a £30m distribution warehouse at the site.