World's largest beverage maker
posted a 12% increase in third-quarter earnings, helped in part by a 6% rise in total sales, the falling dollar and strong international business.
Including certain items, the company earned $1.22 billion, or 50 cents a share, compared with $1.09 billion, or 44 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding items, the company earned 55 cents a share, compared with 45 cents a share in the prior-year quarter. On that basis, analysts were calling for 52 cents a share.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said earnings were positively impacted by currency trends and a lower effective tax rate, but they were hurt by increased costs from a recently resolved legal issue.
The company also said the quarter benefited from 5% unit case growth internationally, led by a solid performance in Europe and other countries such as Mexico, China, Argentina and Thailand. Weak beverage industry trends in Japan and India partially offset the other international performance, however. Worldwide unit case volume grew 4%.
Revenue rose 6% to $5.66 billion, helped by 4% higher gallon shipments, improved prices of concentrate and positive currency trends. Sales of the company's Powerade beverage made up 21% of growth in the quarter, while the Coca-Cola's bottled water line, Dasani, rose 16%.
Coca-Cola also reaffirmed that it plans to repurchase $1.5 billion of its stock in 2003. Shares of the company closed at $45.10 Wednesday on the
New York Stock Exchange