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Let me now turn the call over to Doros.Doros Konstanti nou Thank you George and thank you to every one for joining our call today. I am pleased with our second quarter, first half 2010 results which demonstrate the resilience of our business to withstand continued economic challenges across a large part of our geography. While volumes declined 2% in the first half the benefit of our already efficient initiatives, higher pricing and a favorable currency effect enabled us to grow comparable profits by 3%. Our comparable earnings per share of $0.55 in the first half of 2010 was in line with last year although this also includes a $0.06 adverse impact from the source on our tax which has been imposed on great companies for the seventh consecutive year. Rob will provide further details on this as well as our overall financial performance shortly. Our results in the second quarter reflect the continuing difficult consumer environment in some of our key markets as well as poor weather conditions in parts of Central and Eastern Europe during April and May. These led to a volume decline of 2% in the second quarter with solid performances in Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Russia more than offset by volume softness in key markets including Greece, Italy, Romania and Poland. In addition, the earlier timing of these earnings of 2010 benefited our Q1 results at the expense of Q2. However during the quarter we also witnessed encouraging signs of improved trading conditions in several of our markets including Russia. This gives us grounds for some optimism and demonstrates the benefits of operating across a highly diverse geography. While stock in beverages declined 3% in the quarter, Coca-Cola trademark products grew slightly supported by successful marketing programs and strong activation of the FIFA World Cup event particularly in future consumption channels.
The resilience of the Coca-Cola brand was evidenced by cog zero which grew 4% with high single digit brand growth in both our established and developing segments. This growth was offset by volume decline of the Fanta brand. However, we expect Fanta to benefit from future investments in sampling programs and the formulation of Fanta Orange and Lemon which have already been successfully introduced in several countries.Overall the sparkling beverage category continues to remain essential focus of our marketing plans both for the remainder of the year and into 2011. With rising taxation and high unemployment placing ongoing pressure on households’ disposable incomes in several countries, we continue to witness a first channel mix as consumers will choose spending in immediate consumption channel. As a result the volume of single served packages declined by 4% in both the second quarter and first half of the year. A shift in marketing mix towards increased activation and promotional activity in larger form at retail stores has resulted in volumes of multi-serve packages declining by only 1% in both periods under review. Despite ongoing economic concerns, we remain strongly committed to investing in our brands and the market place to deliver long-term sustainable growth for our business. Together with The Coca-Cola Company we are implementing channel-specific promotional programs and new flavor and packaging innovations to ensure our brands and packages remain highly relevant to consumers in the current environment. This enables us to maintain or gain share in the non-alcoholic budget drink category across the majority of our markets in the first half of the year. The difficult economic conditions are most evident in our established segment where volume declined by 5% in the quarter. The effect of austerity measures in Cyprus and Greece and Ireland continues to negatively impact consumer spending in these markets. The challenges in Greece are further compounded by pressure on the tourism sector which is contributing to faster volume decline over our more profitable single-serve package in this country. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com