Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. (
Q3 2011 Earnings Call
October 27, 2011 10:00 AM ET
Thor Erickson – VP, IR
John Brock – CEO
Bill Douglas – CFO
Hubert Patricot – President, European Group
Steve Powers – Sanford Bernstein
Mark Swartzberg – Stifel Nicolaus
Lauren Torres – HSBC
Kaumil Gajrawala – UBS
Caroline Levy – CLSA
Judy Hong – Goldman Sachs
John Faucher – JP Morgan
Brett Cooper – Consumer Edge Research
Good day, and welcome to the Coca-Cola Enterprises Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference Call.
At the request of Coca-Cola Enterprises, this conference is being recorded for instant replay purposes.
At this time, I’d like to turn the conference over to Mr. Thor Erickson, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.
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Thank you, and good morning, everybody. We appreciate you joining us this morning to discuss our third quarter 2011 results and our outlook for the remainder of 2011.
Before we begin, I’d like to remind you of our cautionary statements. This call will contain forward-looking management comments and other statements reflecting our outlook for future periods. These comments should be considered in conjunction with the cautionary language contained in this morning’s earnings release as well as the detailed cautionary statements found in our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and subsequent SEC filings. A copy of this information is available on our website at
This morning’s prepared remarks will be made by John Brock, our CEO; and Bill Douglas, our CFO. Hubert Patricot, President of our European Group, is also with us on the call this morning. Following the prepared remarks, we will open up the call for your questions. In order to give as many people as possible the opportunity to ask questions, please limit yourself to one question, and we will take the follow-up questions as time permits.
Now, I’ll turn the call over to John Brock.
Thank you, Thor, and thanks to each of you for joining us today, as we discuss our third quarter results and our outlook for the remainder of 2011. As Thor said, we’re joined by Bill Douglas, our CFO; and Hubert Patricot, President of our European Group.
In our news release this morning, we reported comparable earnings of $0.72 per share as total revenue grew 3% on a currency neutral basis and comparable currency neutral operating income grew 3.5%. These results reflect our ability to work through difficult macroeconomic conditions and the impact of challenging weather early in the quarter. By continuing to focus on key operating strategies of outstanding execution, increasing effectiveness and cost control, we remain on track to deliver another successful year of growth. In fact, despite the challenges of the third quarter, we’ve increased our full-year earnings per share outlook to a range of $2.14 to $2.18.
Now, let’s take a look at the results for the quarter. Our volume growth of 1% reflects solid executive, offset by the impact of challenging July weather as well as prior year hurdles. We achieved pricing per case growth of 2% with the cost of sales per case increased up 4%. This reflects the cost pressures we’ve faced in our commodities and the lapping of favorable prior year costs. This expected gross margin decrease does not undermine our commitment to maintain or expand margins over time. However, as we’ve discussed, shifts in business conditions such as those we experienced in the third quarter can create margin fluctuations. Bill will have a bit more on this in just a few minutes.
Looking at the key factors in our third quarter results, perhaps the most important aspect of our quarterly results was our ability to execute in the marketplace at a very high level. This is a result of the outstanding work of our employees to maximize our presence across all channels and categories within ARTD share growth in both volume and value.
Another key element of our strategy remains outstanding customer service, with the goal of being our customer’s most valued supplier. Our success in this area is demonstrated by another recent significant recognition. For the first time, we are now rated the leading consumer goods company in each of our four legacy CCE territories as determined in an industry-wide independent survey of our customers. This survey ranks suppliers on a combination of factors, including category development, customer service and logistics. It’s important to note that this is the first time we’ve been ranked number one in France. Our team there has made exceptional progress and improvement, with a sharp in rankings from number five in 2008 to number two in 2010 and now number one in 2011. While this particular survey has not been used in neither Norway or Sweden, we’re working very hard to be our customer’s most valued supplier in these two territories also and to establish an appropriate and rigorous feedback process.
As we look at the performance of our brand portfolio, we again are encouraged by the results for our core Coca-Cola trademark brands, which grew 2.5% during the quarter. This was led by growth in Coca-Cola Zero, which grew more than 10%. Soft drink flavors including energy were essentially flat. Our energy category was up more than 35%, largely due to solid growth in Monster and the introduce of POWERADE Energy in Great Britain. This was offset by modest declines for sparkling flavors as we lapped strong growth hurdles from the prior year. Overall, sparkling drinks were up 2% for the quarter, while our still portfolio declined about 5%. This decline reflects challenges created by promotional timing, strong comparables to the same quarter a year-ago and soft demand across the still beverage segment, particularly juice drinks in Great Britain.