Coca-Cola earnings slide over tax
ATLANTA (AP) —— The Coca-Cola Co. benefited from strong sales and growth in noncarbonated offerings, but its profit fell 28 percent in the fourth-quarter due in part to certain one-time tax issues. Its shares rose Tuesday as the world's largest beverage maker beat expectations.
The Atlanta-based company said it earned $864 million, or 36 cents a share, for the three months ending Dec. 31, compared to a profit of $1.20 billion, or 50 cents a share, in the same period a year ago when Coke benefited from an insurance settlement and other matters.
Excluding one-time items - an accrual for taxes related to the repatriation of foreign earnings and charges incurred by an equity investee - Coca-Cola said it earned $1.08 billion, or 46 cents a share, in the quarter.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 45 cents a share.
Revenue in the three-month period rose 7 percent to $5.55 billion, compared to $5.20 billion in the same period a year ago.
Total unit case volume increased 4 percent in the fourth quarter, led by gains in China, Russia, Brazil, Turkey, Germany and North America. But the company saw volume declines in the quarter in the Philippines, India and northwest Europe.
"This business is finally starting to believe that it can win again," Chief Executive Officer Neville Isdell told analysts in a conference call.
He reiterated that employee morale has improved over the last year, which followed the departure of several top executives and the restructuring of certain key divisions at the company.
"We continue to see improvement in our execution across the globe," Isdell said. "Most importantly, it brings to an end our transition year."
Isdell said several new product launches and marketing initiatives in 2006 will help the company build on its growth plans. He dismissed suggestions there has been friction between Coke and some of its bottlers, saying the "noise level" on the issue is "incorrect."
For all of 2005, Coke said it earned $4.87 billion, or $2.04 a share, compared to a profit of $4.85 billion, or $2 a share, for all of 2004. Twelve-month revenue rose 6 percent to $23.10 billion, compared to $21.74 billion in 2004.
In addition to its flagship brand and its diet and flavored alternatives, Coca-Cola also markets numerous other soft-drink, water, juice, tea and coffee brands, including Sprite, Fanta, Mello Yello, Minute Maid and Dasani.
Coca-Cola said noncarbonated beverages increased from 17 percent of total unit case volume in 2004 to 19 percent in 2005.
Coke shares rose 9 cents to close at $41.03 in trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.