Greek Coke bottler profit drops, misses forecast

Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH), the world’s No. 2 bottler of Coca-Cola drinks, posted its second year running of falling profit in 2012, hit by higher costs and austerity in its debt-laden European markets.

CCH, which operates in 28 countries from Russia to Nigeria, posted a 12 percent drop in 2012 profit as demand for its beverages weakened.

Profit, excluding restructuring and other one-off charges, dropped to 285 million euros ($382.9 million) versus analysts’ average forecast of 291.5 million euro in a Reuters poll.

The company which aims to leave debt-laden Greece, moving headquarters to Switzerland and its listing to London, said tough conditions would continue this year.

“We anticipate that in 2013, disposable income will remain under pressure, resulting from continued austerity measures and high unemployment, particularly in our established markets,» Chief Executive Officer Dimitris Lois said in a statement.

Higher input costs along with unfavorable foreign currency fluctuations and higher operating expenses hit comparable earnings before interest and tax, which dropped 13 percent to 453 million euros year-on-year.

The volume of unit cases sold was almost flat year-on-year at 2.08 billion. Sales rose 3 percent to 7.05 billion euros, compared with an average analyst forecast of 7.03 billion.

The company said it would continue cost cuts to achieve 1.3 billion euros of free cash flow in 2013-2015. [Reuters]

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