Coca-Cola's European lowers forecast after decline

Coca-Cola's bottler in Europe lowers forecast after profit decline

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., which sells Coca-Cola drinks in Europe, lowered its forecast for the year after citing bad weather and weak economic conditions for a drop in its second-quarter profit.

The company, an independent bottler for Coca-Cola Co., also cited heighted competition in Great Britain and the impact of a higher tax in France for its results. Coca-Cola Enterprises now expects sales for the full year to grow in the low single-digit range, compared to its previous forecast of low to mid-single digit growth.

Operating income is expected to grow in a low to mid-single-digit range, which is more pessimistic than the mid-single digit growth it previously forecast.

Shares were up 33 cents at $37.83 in premarket trading.

As in the United States, Coca-Cola Enterprises is struggling to boost sales in developed markets where people have a growing variety of beverage choices and soda has been under attack for being unhealthy. Last week, Coca-Cola Co. reported a 4 percent decline in the amount of soda it sold in North America, continuing a trend of declines.

Coca-Cola Enterprises meanwhile said its overall volume fell 2.5 percent for the quarter. Sodas and its flagship brand also fell by that amount. Coca-Cola Zero, a diet version, saw growth of more than 13 percent. Noncarbonated drinks also fell 2 percent, including a 5 percent drop in water.

The company said it was improving its overall pricing and promotional strategies, as well as its operating efficiency.

For the period, the company earned $182 million, or 66 cents per share. That's compared with $205 million, or 67 cents per share a year ago.

Not including one-time items, the company earned 77 cents per share, which is a penny more than Wall Street expected.

Revenue slipped to $2.16 billion, short of the $2.22 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet.

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