Coca-Cola ( KO) reportedly is set to announce that it is promoting Vice President Steve Heyer to the posts of president and chief operating officer. The company's board of directors meets next week and is expected to discuss such a move, but Coke could announce Heyer's promotion as early as Wednesday, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Heyer, 50, a former Turner Broadcasting System executive, has run the company's operations in Latin America as well as marketing and new-business ventures since joining the beverage giant in April 2001. The company's former president, Jack Stahl, left in March 2001. Coke is facing several obstacles in the near term, including a challenging sales environment, particularly in some of its core brands, and the effects of economic volatility worldwide. Back in October, the company lowered its fourth-quarter earnings outlook, and it is expected to provide further financial guidance for 2003 at a meeting with analysts on Friday. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley lowered its output estimate for Coke-Japan to flat from its previous estimate of 4% growth. The firm noted that North America and Japan account for more than 40% of Coke's business and said it believes that volume trends are coming in below plan. As a result, Morgan reduced its fourth-quarter earnings estimate by a penny, to 39 cents a share. On average, analysts are expecting the company to post a net profit of 40 cents a share, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call. Shares of the Dow component were down 27 cents, or 0.6%, at $46.23 in late-afternoon trading on the
New York Stock Exchange .