Coca-Cola HBC records small drop in profits, sales

Coca-Cola HBC, the world’s No. 2 bottler of Coca-Cola, reported a 5 percent drop in third-quarter net profit on Thursday due to slower growth in Russia and softer demand in markets hit by economic austerity measures.

The company said net profit excluding restructuring costs and other one-off items fell to 148 million euros, broadly in line with the consensus analyst forecast in a Reuters poll.

“We anticipate that trading conditions will remain difficult for the rest of 2013,” CCHBC’s Chief Executive Dimitris Lois said in a statement.

CCHBC buys syrup concentrate from Coca-Cola and then bottles and distributes the US group’s drinks in 28 countries from Russia to Nigeria.

Tough economic conditions in Greece, Italy, Hungary and Romania and slower growth in the bottler’s biggest market, Russia, hit sales. Volume declined 3 percent to 575 million unit cases, lower than analysts had forecast.

Significant cost savings offset some of the sales decline and foreign exchange losses.

Earlier this year, Coca-Cola HBC shifted its tax base from debt-laden Greece to Switzerland and moved its primary listing to London to improve access to capital markets. [Reuters]

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