Coke Meets 1Q EPS Views, Sales Narrowly Beat


Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) reported in-line first-quarter earnings on Tuesday as consumers in emerging markets sipped more Coke beverages, helping to offset a slowdown in Europe.

The Atlanta-based soda and juice giant reported net income of $1.62 billion, or 36 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $1.75 billion, or 39 cents.

Excluding one-time items, Coca-Cola said it earned 44 cents, matching average analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue for the three months ended March 28 was $ 10.58 billion, down from $11 billion a year ago as volumes slumped 4% in Europe and stayed flat in its key North American market.

However, sales were just above the Street’s view of $10.55 billion as the company gained both global volume and value share in nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverages and grew worldwide volumes by 2% due to rebounding demand in emerging markets including Brazil and China.

“Our growth momentum is steadily improving in line with our expectations,” Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement.

Shares of Coca-Cola were up 2.5% to $39.70 in pre-market trade.

After returning $713 million to shareholders during the quarter, the company said it is targeting stock buybacks of between $2.5 billion and $3 billion during the year.

It also says it is on track to invest an incremental $400 million in advertising and “media initiatives” in a bid to grow the top line. That’s after reporting that heightened advertising during the Sochi Olympics and Super Bowl drove “a sequential improvement” in first-quarter volume.

Looking further into 2014, Coca-Cola is warning that exchange rates may have a negative impact on operating earnings by as much as 7%.