NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., an independent company that bottles and distributes Coca-Cola drinks in Western Europe, said Thursday that its profit fell in the first quarter as it sold less soda and paid more for ingredients.
The company also said it would let its right to buy Coca-Cola's bottling business in Germany expire. It said it now expects to buy back about $1 billion in its shares by the end of the year.
Like The Coca-Cola Co., the bottler has been struggling to grow in developed markets where people are more concerned about sugary drinks and obesity.
During the quarter, Coca-Cola Enterprises said it hiked prices by 2 percent. But that failed to offset a 1.5 percent decline in sales volume. By region, volume rose 1 percent in Great Britain and fell 3 percent in continental Europe.
Energy drinks rose 4 percent and although non-carbonated drinks were down "modestly," Capri-Sun and Nestea saw growth.
For the January-March period, the company said it earned $61 million, or 21 cents per share. That's down from $109, or 35 cents per share, a year ago.
Not including one-time items, it earned 39 cents per share, a penny above what Wall Street expected.
Revenue dipped 1 percent to $1.85 billion, just shy of the $1.9 billion analysts had forecast.
Coca-Cola Enterprises has rights to bottle Coca-Cola drinks in Belgium, France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
Its shares fell 39 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $36.31 in afternoon trading. They are trading near the upper end of their 52-week range of $26.05 to $37.64.