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Coca-Cola Enterprises Income Up 3 Percent

Thu, 04/26/2012 - 12:56pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., which bottles the soda company's products in Europe, said Thursday that its net income rose 3 percent as it raised prices to offset higher commodity costs and a dip in volume.

The Atlanta-based company said it earned $109 million, or 35 cents per share, in the first three months of the year. That compares with a profit of $106 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Analysts on average expected a profit of 33 cents per share, according to FactSet. Shares edged up 12 cents at $29.25 in morning trading.

Revenue for the quarter rose to $1.89 billion, which was up from $1.84 billion a year ago and above Wall Street expectations of $1.84 billion. Operating income rose to $171 million from $164 million, as lower selling, delivery and administrative expenses offset higher costs for ingredients.

The company said it raised prices by 5 percent in the quarter. The hikes offset a half-percent decline in volume, which the company said reflected a new French tax on sweetened beverages that went into effect this year as well as strong performance last year.

For the quarter, the company said volumes of Coca-Cola trademark brands were up 1 percent, led by gains Coca-Cola Zero. Energy brands such as Monster and Powerade in Great Britain also had "significant growth" while still beverages declined in the "mid-single-digit" range, compared with an increase of 14.5 percent a year ago, the company said.

Coca-Cola Enterprises affirmed its full-year forecast that its net income would increase by about 10 percent, with revenue expected to increase in the high-single digit range. Share repurchases remain on track, with a goal of at least $500 million in buybacks planned by the end of the year.

Both Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are trying to gain more control over their bottlers and distributors, hoping to get new drinks on shelves more quickly to keep up with changing tastes. Last year, Coca-Cola bought Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.'s North American bottling operations for $3.4 billion.

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