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Coca-Cola Comfortable With 2000, 2001 Growth Expectations

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The Real Thing sees the top line growing in the fourth-quarter, but the bottom line is still the real issue.


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said Wednesday that its sales volume will grow 3% in the fourth quarter, with unit case volume, a key indicator of health in the soft drink industry, growing by 4% for the full year.

Coca-Cola also said it felt comfortable with earnings estimates for the fourth quarter and fiscal 2000 as well as fiscal 2001. Fifteen analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

forecast fourth-quarter earnings of 38 cents a share and full-year earnings of $1.44 a share in 2000 and $1.73 in 2001.

Still, Coke's performance could be seen as troubling, since fourth-quarter volume growth did not match the full-year projection, and

Coca-Cola Enterprises


, a bottler of Coke products, issued an earnings warning two weeks ago. The bottler said at the time that European sales had softened because of the affect of the weak euro, and Canadian sales were dragging down North American volumes.