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Coca-Cola overcomes declining demand in North America and achieves strong fourth quarter sales

Coca-Cola reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue as growth in Mexico, Germany and other markets offset lower sales in the United States. The Atlanta-based beverage giant said Tuesday its revenue rose 7% to $10.8 billion for the October-December period. …

Coca-Cola reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue as growth in Mexico, Germany and other markets offset lower demand in the United States.

Revenue rose 7% to $10.8 billion for the October-December period, the Atlanta beverage giant said Tuesday. That beat Wall Street’s forecast of $10.7 billion, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Coca-Cola’s revenue rose 10% on higher prices in 2023, but the company said that was partly due to hyperinflationary conditions in a handful of markets like Argentina. The company expects its full-year organic revenue to grow at a more moderate pace, 6% to 7% this year, down from 12% growth in last year.

“We expect hyperinflationary prices to continue to play a role in 2024, but moderate throughout the year,” John Murphy, Coke’s chief financial officer, said on a conference call with investors.

Single case volumes increased 2% in the quarter, driven by carbonated soft drinks, juices and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Sports drinks, coffee and tea have all seen a decline in demand.

In North America, unit case volumes declined 1% as growth in juice, dairy and Coca-Cola sales was offset by lower demand for water, sports drinks, coffee and tea. Coke said its prices in North America rose 8% in the fourth quarter and for the full year.

Chairman and CEO James Quincey said the price increases have clearly forced some consumers to go out less often and buy more drinks for the home. But he added that Coca-Cola continues to enjoy strong purchasing power from other consumers, who are opting for more expensive drinks like Fairlife milk, Core Power protein shakes and Simply juices.

“There are clearly several things happening in the landscape in terms of categories and price points and we have worked to address both ends,” Quincey said.

Unit case volumes increased in Coke’s other global markets, although Coke said it had seen some slowdown in demand due to the war in the Middle East. Several other major U.S. companies, including Starbucks and McDonald’s, also reported sales disruptions due to the war.

Net income fell 3% to $1.9 billion, or 46 cents per share. Excluding special items, including restructuring costs, the company earned 49 cents per share. This was in line with Wall Street forecasts.

Coke shares were unchanged in early trading.

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