Higher Prices, Diet Soda Sales Drive Coca-Cola’s Earnings

Higher prices and sales of diet soda helped Coca-Cola beat expectations for revenue and earnings during its third quarter, increasing profit by over 30%.

Coca-Cola revenue reached $8.25 billion for the quarter while analysts were expecting $8.17 billion, and earnings per share ended at 58 cents, while analysts were expecting 55 cents.

Net income at Coca-Cola was up to $1.88 billion from $1.45 billion during the same period one year ago.

Coke raised its prices across North America to help offset the higher costs of transportation and importing, said its CEO James Quincey during a Tuesday conference call.

Quincey added that the company enjoyed a solid three-month period and was on track to close the year reaching its guidance.

Following the earnings report, shares of Coke were up 2% and ended Tuesday 2.52% higher.

The double-digit sales volume growth for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar its popular diet soda and solid sales for other sparkling soft drinks was able to drive the earnings results, said the beverage maker.  Overall its sales of sparkling soft drinks expanded by 2%, thanks to sales of Coca-Cola and its diet versions of Sprite and Fanta.

It sports drink and water sales increased 5%, primarily thanks to strong sales in Mexico and China.

Those gains however were offset by a drop of 3% in sales for dairy, juice and plant-based beverages, with the biggest drops in North Africa and the Middle East, along with a drop on coffee and tea.

An increase in sales of Gold Peak and Fuze Tez were hurt by the drop in sales for Turkey its local brand of tea.

In all, unit case volume, an important metric of overall product sold, increased by 2% from the same period last year.

The soft drink maker confirmed a prior forecast for continued organic revenue growth of 4% or more for the full year.

Organic revenue, which was up 6% over the prior year, strips away fluctuations due to currency rates.

Quincey, who has only been CEO for approximately 18 months, changed his management team in early October, selecting a long-time veteran at the company for No. 2 and making changes at CFO and CTO.

Coca-Cola completed its refranchising of bottler for North America, which resulted in a $275 million charge.