July 25, 2018 / 11:13 AM / a month ago

Coca-Cola results beat on higher Diet Coke, Zero Sugar demand

(Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly sales and profit on Wednesday, as more consumers reached out for its Zero Sugar brand and the new version of Diet Coke.

Coke and its smaller rival PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) have been focussing on healthier drinks to garner market share as health-conscious consumers shift away from sugary sodas.

Coca-Cola had earlier this year launched new flavours of its popular Diet Coke brand in slimmer packaging and debuted Coca-Cola Stevia No Sugar in New Zealand and dairy-free smoothie AdeZ in Europe in the quarter.

Organic revenue, or sales from its core beverage business, rose 5 percent in the quarter, with Diet Coke, Coke Zero and sparkling water contributing the most.

Volumes, a key indicator of demand, grew 2 percent in the quarter on strong performance of its trademark Coca-Cola brand, and Fuze Tea.

Organic sales in Europe rose 7 percent after the company reformulated its recipe for a few sodas in response to U.K’s tax on sugar.

Warehouse manager Chad Sadler walks by cases of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke, waiting to be delivered to stores, in a warehouse at the Swire Coca-Cola facility in Draper, Utah March 9, 2011. REUTERS/George Frey

“We were impressed with Coca-cola’s ability to deliver a strong and balanced topline,” Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog wrote in a note.

Sales in North America - its biggest revenue generating region - rose 7 percent to $3.12 billion, but missed analysts’ average estimate of $3.14 billion, mainly due to a drop in demand for juices and plant- based beverages.

Net income attributable to the company’s shareholders rose to $2.32 billion, or 54 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 29, from $1.37 billion, or 32 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Coca-Cola said it earned 61 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate by a cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 8 percent to $8.93 billion, hurt by the divestiture of its low-margin bottling operations. Analysts had estimated sales of $8.54 billion.

Coca-Cola reaffirmed its 2018 profit outlook and said it expects full-year organic revenue to be at least 4 percent.

Shares of the Atlanta-based company were marginally up at $45.50 during premarket hours.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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