Coca-Cola tops estimates on demand for sugar-free sodas

Business

(Reuters) – Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) reported quarterly sales and profit that beat Wall Street estimates on Tuesday, as more consumers reached for its sugar-free sodas, premium waters and sports drinks.

A Coca-Cola truck makes its way through downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S., October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Coke, like rival PepsiCo Inc PEP.N, has been building up its portfolio of non-carbonated drinks and stepping up efforts to reduce sugar in its beverages as consumers seek healthier options.

The company paid $5.1 billion for the world’s second-largest coffee chain Costa earlier this year and took a stake in Kobe Bryant-backed sports drink BodyArmor in a bid to court a younger demographic that prefers sipping lattes to gulping big sodas.

Organic revenue, or sales from its core beverage business, rose 6 percent in the third quarter, with Diet Coke, Coke Zero and sparkling water the top contributors.

Volumes, a key indicator of demand, grew 2 percent in the quarter on strong performance of its trademark Coca-Cola brand and growth in the low- and no-calorie offerings of Sprite and Fanta, the company said.

Sales of sodas grew 2 percent.

Net income attributable to the company’s shareholders rose to $1.88 billion, or 44 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 28 from $1.45 billion, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, Coca-Cola said it earned 58 cents per share, beating analysts’ average estimate by 3 cents.

Revenue fell 9 percent to $8.25 billion, due to the disposal of its low-margin bottling operations.

Analysts had estimated sales of $8.17 billion, according to Refinitiv estimates.

The company’s shares were up 1.4 percent in premarket trading.

Reporting by Aishwarya Venugopal in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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