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Earnings Preview: Coca-Cola’s Overseas Test

Fri, 07/13/2012 - 12:41pm

NEW YORK (AP) — The Coca-Cola Co. may provide a snapshot of how the beverage giant's expansion overseas is offsetting slower growth at home when it announces its second-quarter results Tuesday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Given the saturated U.S. market, the Atlanta-based company is increasingly focusing on regions such as China and India, where the ranks of middle-class consumers are growing rapidly.

WHY IT MATTERS: Coca-Cola is jostling with rival PepsiCo Inc. to establish early dominance in key international markets, which could help determine the future growth trajectories of the two companies. When taking into account the various beverages it sells in local markets, Coca-Cola now has a stable of more than 500 brands globally.

Last month, the company said it would accelerate its investment in India to $5 billion over the next eight years. That's more than double the $2 billion it has invested since re-entering the country in 1993. It also plans to invest $4 billion in China, where its business has doubled in the past five years.

Still, North America remains Coca-Cola's flagship market and the company is also working to keep up with changing tastes and public health concerns about sugary drinks. The company has managed to offset slow growth and higher commodity costs at home by raising prices and offering a variety of smaller drink sizes, which the company says dovetail with people's concerns about guzzling too many calories.

The smaller sizes also yield higher profit margins.

Coca-Cola is also relying on growth from other beverages as soda consumption in the U.S. continues to decline. In the first quarter, for example, the slight bump in North America volume was driven largely by the company's Powerade sports drinks, Dasani bottled water and zero-calorie Vitaminwater.

WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts on average expect earnings of $1.19 per share on revenue of $12.98 billion, according to FactSet.

LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: The company reported net income of $2.8 billion, or $1.20 per share, on revenue of $12.74 billion.

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