04/20/2016

Coca-Cola Co's sales fell for the fourth straight quarter as demand weakened for its fizzy drinks in Europe and a strong dollar ate into revenue from other markets outside the United States, including Latin America.

Shares of the world's largest beverage maker fell 1.7 percent to $45.80 in premarket trading on Wednesday.

Coke and smaller rival PepsiCo Inc have been hurt as consumers increasingly turn health-conscious, cutting back on fizzy drinks and opting for teas, fruit juices and smoothies.

The rise in the dollar has also hit the companies, which have a sizeable presence in markets outside the United States, including China and Brazil.

The average value of the dollar rose 2.6 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. The U.S. currency had risen 18 percent in the first three months of 2015.

This week, PepsiCo also reported a drop in quarterly sales, but strong demand for its snacks in North America helped the company post a better-than-expected profit.

Coke's sales in Europe, its third biggest market, declined 1 percent in the quarter ended April 1, while a strong dollar and weak demand in Brazil pulled down Latin America sales by 12.2 percent.

The net income attributable to the company's shareholders fell 4.5 percent to $1.48 billion, or 34 cents per share.

Excluding items, Coke earned 45 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate by a cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Coke, which has a target of $3 billion annual cost savings by 2019, said selling, general and administrative expenses declined nearly 8 percent.

Net operating revenue fell 4 percent to $10.28 billion.

However, total organic revenue, which excludes the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and currency movements, rose 2 percent.

Coke maintained its 2016 forecast of 4-5 percent growth in organic revenue and 4-6 percent growth in earnings per share on a constant-currency basis.  

By Yashaswini Swamynathan - Reuters (Editing by Kirti Pandey)