Coca-Cola ( KO) reported third-quarter earnings of $1.9 billion, or 81 cents a share, an increase of 14% from year-earlier earnings of $1.7 billion, or 71 cents a share, as sales rose 9% to $8.4 billion.

Excluding items, earnings in the quarter were 83 cents a share, above the estimate of 77 cents a share of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Coca-Cola said Wednesday its international operations, particularly in emerging markets, continue to drive its growth offsetting challenges in North America. The company said it anticipates the operating environment, especially in North America, will continue to be challenging through 2008 and into 2009.

The company said it's on track to deliver $400 million to $500 million in annualized savings from productivity initiatives by year-end 2011.

Unit case volume rose 5% in the third quarter, Coca-Cola said. International operations saw 7% unit case volume growth in the quarter. North America unit case volume declined 2%.

Shares of Coca-Cola closed Tuesday at $43.73.

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