On Wednesday, Coca-Cola Company announced earnings of 51 cents per share in the third quarter, more or less in line with analysts’ forecasts. In a mixed earnings report, the company’s Powerade sports beverage line was a bright spot, leading an overall strong showing in the still beverages category in North America.
“Our growth in North America was once again driven by our still beverage portfolio, which was up 7% this quarter. This is the 10th consecutive quarter that our North America still beverage portfolio has either maintained or gained both volume and value share. In sports drinks, Powerade grew volume 9% this quarter while also leading the North America sports drink category in absolute unit case volume growth for the fourth consecutive quarter,” said Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola in a earnings conference call with investors.
Worldwide volume grew by 4% in the quarter, Kent said, and 5% year-to-date. “Importantly, we realized positive growth across all 5 of our geographic operating groups this quarter despite facing a still uncertain global economy,” he said.
Coke’s sparkling beverage business was flat in North America in the quarter, Kent said, but was an improvement over the previous quarter and was better than the category overall.
Weakness in North America sparkling beverages was more than made up by global growth in the category led by the company’s flagship brand, Coca-Cola, which is up 3% year to date. This bit of news provided the memorable sound-bite of the earnings call.
“Our global sparkling business has generated nearly 450 million incremental cases year-to-date or the equivalent of adding another Russia to our global business. And this growth has been consistently and reliably led by brand Coca-Cola,” Kent said.
The company, despite being the biggest purveyor of sugar- and high fructose corn syrup-sweetened beverages in the world, has a commitment to fighting obesity, Kent said.
“We're also leading the effort across communities in the United States to tackle obesity. Last week, we joined fellow members of the beverage industry to announce the first-of-its-kind partnership with the cities of Chicago and San Antonio, encouraging the citizens of these cities to be more health aware and physically active. We introduced a city-to-city wellness challenge, as well as our new Calories Count Vending Program that will provide consumers with the choices and information they need to choose beverages.”
Overall, Kent said, the company continues to forge ahead despite very uncertain global economic conditions.
“Certainly, the world has been very volatile from a macroeconomic perspective over the last 4 years. We continue to crack the calculus for growth in this challenging and volatile environment,” he said.