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Coca-Cola's Profit Climbs But Obstacles Loom

"To be frank, we see competition as healthy. It keeps us on our toes," Kent said.

For the quarter, Coca-Cola said global sales volume rose 3 percent, helped by gains in countries such as Turkey and Russia.

In Europe, the company blamed an uncertain economy, bad weather and price competition for a 5 percent decline in volume.

In China, where U.S. companies of all stripes are looking for growth, volume declined 4 percent after growing 10 percent in the year-ago quarter. The company said the business in the region was impacted by a slowing economy, bad weather and a later Chinese New Year.

Even though Coca-Cola has quarters where volumes decline in regions such as Europe and China, Kent noted that the company's results have been insulated by its geographic diversity. The company sells drinks in every country but Cuba and North Korea.

For the October-to-December period, The Coca-Cola Co. earned $1.87 billion, or 41 cents per share. That's compared with $1.66 billion, or 36 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Not including one-time items, the company said it earned 45 cents per share.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $11.46 billion.

Analysts on average expected an adjusted profit of 44 cents per share on revenue of $11.53 billion.

For the full year, net income was $9.02 billion, or $1.97 per share, up from $8.58 billion, or $1.85 per share, in the year-ago period.

Looking forward, Coca-Cola expects prices for ingredients such as sweeteners, juice, metals and plastic to rise more moderately in the past year. The company expects foreign currency translation to hurt operating income by 4 percent in 2013, compared with a 5 percent impact in 2012.

Its shares were down 3 percent at $37.55.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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