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Coca-Cola Posts Earnings Beat and Reinstates Guidance

Coca-Cola offers 2021 guidance despite uncertainties brought on by the pandemic.
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Coca-Cola  (KO)  reported better-than-expected earnings Wednesday and the soft drink giant reinstated guidance despite uncertainties sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

Shares of the Atlanta-based company were up 1.83% to $50.60 at last check.

Coca-Cola reported net income of $1.46 billion, or 34 cents a share, compared with $2.04 billion, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, earnings came to 47 cents a share, topping the 42 cents expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Revenue totaled $8.6 billion, down 5% from a year ago. Wall Street was looking for revenue of $8.63 billion.

Organic sales fell 3% as the company contended with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts surveyed by Consensus Metrix had been expecting a 3.4% drop. Global unit case volume fell 3%, a percentage point better than in the previous period.

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Cash from operations was $9.8 billion for the year, down 6%, largely driven by pressure on the business due to the coronavirus pandemic and a currency headwind.

For 2021, Coca-Cola said it expects adjusted earnings to grow in the high-single digits to low-double digits and organic revenue to rise in the high-single digits.

In December, Coca-Cola cut 2,200 jobs worldwide, including 1,200 in the U.S., in response to business shutdowns brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said it expects a liability of about $12 billion related to a dispute with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on how much it charged foreign affiliates for the rights to make and sell Coke products abroad.

The U.S. Tax Court sided with the IRS in November, but Coca-Cola said it "intends to vigorously defend its position" even as the company recorded a tax reserve of $438 million for the year ended Dec. 31.

"The progress we made in 2020, including the actions taken to accelerate the transformation of our company, gives us confidence in returning to growth in the year ahead," James Quincey, chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "While near-term uncertainty remains, we are well-positioned to emerge stronger from the crisis, driven by our purpose and our beverages for life ambition."