Coca-Cola results worse than expected

COCA-COLA reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, hurt by a decline in North American sales volume.

The world’s largest soft drink maker said sales volume fell two per cent in North America, citing the weak economy and unseasonably cold weather in January and February. The company also said its deal to acquire the North American operations of its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises, was on track to close in the fourth quarter.

Coca-Cola expects the deal, which follows a similar one by rival PepsiCo, to help turn around its ailing North American business by streamlining distribution, boosting flexibility and cutting costs.

The company also said it remained on track to achieve its goal of $500m in annualised cost savings by the end of 2011.

First-quarter revenue rose five per cent to $7.53bn (£4.9bn), but fell short of the analysts’ average estimate of $7.72bn. Net income increased to $1.61bn, or 69 cents per share, from $1.35bn, or 58 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding items such as restructuring charges and the impact of the Venezuela currency devaluation, earnings were 80 cents per share.