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Dr Pepper shares soar after 1Q profit tops St.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. soared Wednesday after the drinks maker's first-quarter profit beat Wall Street expectations. Price increases helped offset a decline in sales volume.

Dr Pepper, based in Plano, Texas, makes Mott's juices, 7Up, Sunkist and Canada Dry in addition to its namesake drinks. Productivity improvements and a lower charge on inventory helped lift net income 4 percent, despite higher costs for ingredients such as apples.

Sales volume declined 2 percent, reflecting the broader beverage industry's struggles to grow in developed markets where people are shying away from sugary drinks. Unlike its much bigger rivals Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., Dr Pepper relies far more heavily on North America for sales.

Given the sluggish growth in the U.S., the three companies have all been trying to slash costs and streamline production to improve profitability.

For the quarter, Dr Pepper said volume for its namesake soda fell 3 percent, reflecting declines in the core brand as well as Dr Pepper Ten, a newer diet soda that's marketed to men and has just 10 calories. The company has since introduced 10-calorie versions for its other sodas, including RC Cola, 7Up and Sunkist.

In non-carbonated beverages, Hawaiian Punch volumes dropped 14 percent and Snapple fell 2 percent, while Mott's rose 11 percent.

For the quarter, Dr Pepper earned $106 million, or 51 cents per share. That's compared with $102 million, or 48 cents per share, a year ago.

Not including one-time items, the company said it earned 53 cents per share. That's above the 46 cents per share Wall Street expected, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 1 percent, to $1.38 billion from $1.36 billion, in line with analyst estimates.

Shares of Dr Pepper gained $9.57, or 20 percent, to $57.33 in premarket trading. The stock has risen 19 percent over the past 12 months.

The Plano, Texas, company stood by its full-year guidance for sales growth of about 3 percent and adjusted earnings of $3.04 to $3.12 per share.