Coke ( KO) posted a fizzy quarter Thursday, beating Wall Street estimates as the company stabilized its struggling North American business.

For its third quarter ended Sept. 30, the soft-drink giant made $1.28 billion, or 54 cents a share, up from the year-ago $935 million, or 39 cents a share. Revenue rose 8% from a year ago to $6.04 billion. The company said latest-quarter earnings were hit by 3 cents a share worth of asset writedowns in the Philippines. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast a 54-cent profit on $5.97 billion in sales.

"This quarter demonstrates early progress in our efforts to achieve sustainable growth for the future," said CEO Neville Isdell. "We continue to see good results in many markets, including Latin America, Africa, Russia, Turkey, central Europe, Japan and China, and stabilization in an increasingly focused North America. However, we still have considerable work ahead of us in other markets such as the Philippines, India and Germany, as well as to address current category trends in northwest Europe. In addition, we are monitoring the potential impact of energy costs and macro-economic trends on consumer sentiment and disposable income. As we close out 2005 and move into 2006, we will continue to lay the foundation for sustainable growth over the coming years."

Coke said revenue growth reflected a 5% increase in gallon sales, favorable pricing and mix, and a positive currency benefit. Cash from operations in the first nine months rose 15% to $5.3 billion, and Coke has repurchased $1.6 billion of its stock year-to-date. It intends to repurchase a total of at least $2 billion of its stock for the full year 2005.

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