Coca-Cola Tops Earnings Forecast as COVID Reopenings Boost Demand

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey is "encouraged by improvements in our business, especially in markets where vaccine availability is increasing and economies are opening up."
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Coca-Cola  (KO) - Get Report posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings Monday while noting that sales from stadiums, restaurants and movie theatres continue to be pressured by coronavirus closures. 

Coca-Cola said adjusted non-GAAP earnings for the three months ending in March were pegged at 55 cents per share,  up 7.8% from the same period last year and 4 cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. 

Group revenues, Coca-Cola said, rose 5% to $9 billion, a figure that also topped analysts' estimates of an $8.606 billion tally as at-home sales reached levels last seen in March of 2019 and offset the ongoing pressure in restaurant and sports stadium channels, which remain partially closed around the country and much of western Europe.

Coca-Cola said the current financial year is "off to a good start", but reiterated its previous forecast of organic revenue growth in the "high single-digits" and comparable earnings growth of "high single to low double digits" versus 2021.

“We remain focused on emerging stronger and executing against our growth accelerators during the recovery phase. We are pleased with the progress we are making,” said CEO James Quincey. “We are encouraged by improvements in our business, especially in markets where vaccine availability is increasing and economies are opening up, and we remain confident in our full year guidance.”  

Coca-Cola shares were marked 0.2% lower in early trading following the earnings release to change hands at $53.65 each, a move that nudges the stock's six-month gain to around 8%.

Last week, Coca-Cola's main rival, PepsiCo  (PEP) - Get Report, topped Street forecasts with a first quarter bottom line of $1.21 per share, up 13% from last year, on revenues of $14.82 billion, helped in part by $4.236 billion in sales from the group's Frito-Lay snacks division.