Coca-Cola’s efforts to broaden its brand portfolio paid off in the latest quarter as it beat analysts’ estimates despite flat sales of its core carbonated soft drinks.
The company has been focusing on non-fizzy beverages such as Georgia coffee and Glaceau vitamin water as consumers shift away from sugary sodas to healthier drinks.
For the fourth quarter, Coca-Cola reported 6% organic revenue growth as sales of waters and sports drinks were up 2% and tea and coffee beverages also rose by 2%. That offset the flat sales of carbonated soft drinks and a 2% decline in sales of juice, dairy, and plant-based beverages.
Analyst had expected organic revenue to increase by 3.65%.
Coca-Cola’s net operating revenue fell to $7.51 billion from $9.41 billion a year earlier due to ongoing efforts to refranchise its bottling operations, but beat the average analyst estimate of $7.36 billion. The bottom line took a hit from a $3.6 billion charge related to the new tax law, swinging to a net loss of $2.75 billion, or 65 cents per share, from a profit of $550 million, or 13 cents per share, a year ago.
But excluding one-time items, Coca-Cola earned an adjusted 39 cents per share, compared to analysts’ average estimate of 38 cents.
“Coca-Cola continues to do a good job driving relevancy with consumers and leveraging innovation and mix to drive solid pricing growth,” said Bonnie Herzog, an analyst with Wells Fargo.
As Food Drink & Franchise reports, “It has been a difficult period for the soft drink market, with [Coca-Cola] rival Pepsi recording a drop in beverage sales in North America as industry challenges continue to intensify.”
Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey has said he hopes to tackle these challenges by becoming a “total beverage company.” Its recent non-carbonated investments have included Honest Tea, Fairlife milk, and Suja Life, which makes high-pressure processed juices and drinking vinegar.
“While there is still much work to do, I am encouraged by our momentum as we head into 2018,” Quincey said in the earnings release.