ATLANTA: Coca-Cola Co., the world's largest beverage maker, said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit fell 10 percent on restructuring charges and write-downs but the results met analysts' estimates.
The Atlanta-based company, which has been focusing on core brands like Sprite and Coke amid a consumer spending pullback, says five extra selling days helped its quarterly results. It also maintained a plan to save $500 million a year by 2011.
"While the global economic environment remains challenging, we are well-positioned for long-term growth. Our business was built for times like these," President and Chief Executive Muhtar Kent said in a statement.
Kent has remained optimistic about Coca-Cola's prospects during the downturn, indicating at a conference in February that the company would emerge from the global financial crisis stronger than it went in.
Coca-Cola's net income for the period ended April 3 slipped to $1.35 billion, or 58 cents per share, compared with $1.5 billion, or 64 cents per share, a year ago.
Excluding restructuring charges, write-downs and other items, earnings were $1.51 billion, or 65 cents per share, which met the expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Quarterly results included a 2 percent rise in unit case volume, with some of the biggest improvements reported overseas in countries such as India, China and Mexico.
Sales dipped 3 percent to $7.17 billion to miss Wall Street's estimate of $7.36 billion.
Like other beverage makers, Coca-Cola has seen its sales drop as consumers grow increasingly concerned about the high-fructose corn syrup that sweetens their drinks. Drink makers hope advancements like stevia-based sweetener will help them stem declining sales and bring revenue growth back in line with population growth.
Rival PepsiCo Inc. made a $6 billion bid Monday to buy out its two largest bottlers in a bid to be more nimble as soft drinks have declined in popularity in favor of healthier options like water and juices.
Some analysts speculated that Coca-Cola — which owns 35 percent of its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. — may make similar moves since it faces the same challenges as Pepsi. In its statement Tuesday, Coca-Cola attributed part of its success to its "alignment with our invaluable bottling partners."