Coca-Cola Earnings Reveal New Growth Markets

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The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) issued an earnings beat on Tuesday, reporting an 8 percent rise in net income during the first quarter as sales improved around the world.

The world’s biggest beverage company said it earned $2.05 billion, or 89 cents per share, for the three months ended March 30. That compares to a net income of $1.9 billion, or 82 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected a profit of 88 cents per share, according to Fact Set.

Higher profit was driven by a 5 percent increase in global volume, particularly in emerging markets such as China, India, and Russia, according to a company statement. International volumes grew 6 percent as overseas expansion became an increasing focus for the company. Meanwhile, U.S. sales have slowed.

Total volume grew just 2 percent in North American, where the Powerade line of energy drinks, the company’s Dasani bottled water, and zero-calorie vitaminwater were responsible for gains.

As consumers grow more concerned about health, Coca-Cola is looking beyond soda. Bottled water sales volume grew 15 percent in the first quarter, while energy drinks rose 25 percent. The company’s namesake Coca-Cola soda only increased 4 percent.

Coca-Cola is also making efforts to cut costs as rising commodity costs pressure profits. The company said its cost-cutting program, which began in the most recent quarter, is on track, and when completed, the measures are expected to save up to $650 million annually by 2015.

Total revenue was $11.14 billion for the quarter, up 6 percent from $10.52 billion in the year-earlier period. Analysts had projected revenue of $10.82 billion. Gross profit, which excludes selling and administrative costs, interest expense or income taxes, was $6.79 billion for the quarter, up from $6.57 billion in the first quarter of 2011.

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