Coca-Cola beats profit estimates

NEW YORK: Global beverage giant Coca-Cola on Tuesday reported forecast-beating quarterly profit, aided by strong volume growth in emerging markets like China and India.

The US soft-drink maker said it had net profit of 2.04 billion dollars in the second quarter, up 43 percent from a year ago when heavy charges were taken.

Earnings per share were 88 cents, but excluding exceptional items were 92 cents, better than the average analyst forecast of 89 cents.

In the 2008 second quarter, Coca-Cola had taken several charges for restructuring and asset writedowns, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company noted in reporting the financial results.

Excluding those special charges, net earnings in the 2009 April-June period were 9.0 percent lower on an annual basis, the company said, explaining the decline was mainly due to the negative foreign exchange impact of a weaker dollar.

Quarterly sales fell 9.0 percent from a year ago to 8.26 billion dollars, slightly below market expectations of 8.66 billion dollars.

Global sales volume rose 4.0 percent from the same period in 2008.

Coca-Cola said unit case volume growth increased strongly in key emerging markets, with 33 percent growth in India and 14 percent growth in China.

"Sound" case volume growth occurred in other key markets, including Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Thailand, Korea and Northwest Europe, it said.

Case volume declined 2.0 percent in North America and 1.0 percent in Europe.

"In the first half of the year, we delivered volume and profit results in line with our long-term growth targets, despite very challenging global economic conditions.said Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive of The Coca-Cola Company.

"We outperformed the nonalcoholic ready-to-drink industry in most of our key markets and drove further global volume and value share gains."

Kent confirmed the company was on track to reach a 500-million-dollar target in annualized savings by 2011, adding that more than half of the savings were expected to be delivered by the end of this year.