Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bottlers take the fizz out of Coke Q1 profit

Bottlers take the fizz out of Coke Q1 profitCoke one-year New York trading

Writedowns at bottling companies pushed down first-quarter profit at Coca-Cola Co., the company said Tuesday.

The writedowns at the two partly owned bottlers, one in Atlanta that serves 80 per cent of the North American market and another in Greece that sells into the Mediterranean and Eurasia, slashed equity income by $120 million US in the quarter ended April 3.

That was the largest single factor in the drop. Coke's profit was $1.36 billion US (58 cents a diluted share), compared with $1.51 billion (64 cents) in the 2008 first quarter.

The 2009 share figure is after a charge of seven cents for restructuring charges and asset writedowns. In 2008, the figure included three cents for similar items.

Revenue was $7.17 billion in the first quarter of 2009, compared with $7.38 billion in the same period last year.

The company said worldwide unit case volume grew two per cent in the quarter, with gains in Africa and the Pacific, especially India and China, and drops in Europe and North America.

Coke sells nearly 1.6 billion servings a day, said Muhtar Kent, president and CEO.

The stock closed down $1.24 at $43.09 in in New York. The 52-week range is $37.44 to $61.