Pepsi Bottling


Monday reaffirmed in-line 2004 earnings but its 2005 outlook disappointed.

The Somers, N.Y.-based company said it still expects 2004 EPS of $1.71 to $1.74, vs. the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of $1.73.

The company said the introduction of Tropicana juice drinks and the strategic use of limited-time offers have fueled volume improvement.

For 2005, however, the company's forecast of $1.76 to $1.84 a share came in below the consensus estimate of $1.86 a share.

Both forecasts are for EPS excluding items. The company said higher packaging and sweetener costs were challenging earnings.

In late September, Pepsi reported a modest increase in third-quarter profit, as the company achieved volume growth in all key markets. It earned $191 million, or 73 cents a share, vs. $183 million, or 67 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding a 2-cents-a-share gain from a tax settlement, the company earned 71 cents a share, just beating analysts' forecasts. Revenue rose to $2.93 billion from $2.81 billion.

Shares closed at $27.33 Friday.