Updated from 7:50 a.m. with additional comments from Coca-Cola.
The soda giant reported earnings excluding one-time items of 45 cents a share, narrowly beating Wall Street estimates for 44 cents. Total revenue clocked in at $10.3 billion, down about 4% year over year due to the strength of the U.S. dollar that clipped sales by 5 percentage points. Coke's organic revenue, which excludes the impact of currency fluctuations, rose 2% on the the back of momentum globally for sports drinks, teas, packaged water and energy drinks. Global volume rose 2%.
The company on Wednesday reiterated its financial targets for the year. Organic revenue was seen increasing 4% to 5%, while earnings per share were expected to gain 4% to 6%.
Shares fell by about 4.5% on Wednesday as investors, who have bid up Coke's shares by an impressive 9% this year, may have been concerned by comments on challenging macroeconomic conditions and only a reaffirmed profit outlook.
"Amidst a challenging global macro environment, the continued focus on our five strategic initiatives enabled us to gain global value share in the first quarter and deliver positive top-line growth and strong underlying margin expansion," said Coca-Cola's Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent in a statement.
James Quincey, Coca-Cola's president and chief operating officer told TheStreet, "Part of what we see in the sparkling numbers this quarter is the relative strength in the developing countries where we get more growth in still beverages, the emerging markets tend to be weighted toward sparkling beverages [and their economies have been challenging}."
The comments from Coke execs on the state of the global economy echo those made by Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo's (PEP) - Get Report chairman and CEO, on Monday. Like Coke, Pepsi beat Wall Street's first-quarter profit estimates but only reiterated its outlook for sales and earnings, citing challenging economies in Europe.
Meantime, Coke's core soda business continued to be under pressure.
Sales of trademark Coca-Cola declined in every country except for the Asia Pacific region, where sales rose 3%. In the U.S., sales of diet Coke declined, with Quincey noting on a call with reporters the company is "still not happy on the performance of Diet Coke" and that it was taking action to improve performance.
But, Quincey says, the company continued to have success among consumers with small soda can sizes, which tend to help boost profits. For example, Coke's operating income, excluding one-time items, rose 4% in North America alongside a 2% increase in organic revenue. In the Asia Pacific region, operating income and organic revenue rose 5% and 2%, respectively, from the prior year.