ECONOMY

CCHBC beats forecasts on first-half results

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC), the world’s third-largest bottler of the refreshment, yesterday announced a near tripling of first-half results and said it expected the trend to continue for the rest of the year. Group net profit for the first six months of 2003 was up 182.3 percent to 48 million euros year-on-year, CCHBC said in a statement. A Reuters’ poll of analysts earlier this month produced an average forecast of 38.9 million euros. Group turnover grew 1 percent to 1.95 billion euros. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached 325 million euros, up 12 percent year-on-year. The company reported under International Accounting Standards. «Net profit is expected to be in the range of 90-100 million euros, against our previous expectations of approximately doubling the 2002 level of net profit (35 million euros),» CCHBC said. Managing Director Irial Finan said the company «remained focused on expanding our product portfolio through new launches and selected acquisitions in the fast expanding water segment.» CCHBC acquired mineral water operations Valser of Switzerland and Dorna of Romania last year jointly with The Coca-Cola Company and consolidated their results in the first quarter of this year. Separately, Moody’s investors service changed the rating outlook on the A3 senior unsecured debt rating of CCHBC to stable from positive. «The change in outlook has been prompted following the company’s announcement that it plans to make a capital return of 473 million euros to its shareholders during the current financial year ending December 2003,» said Moody’s, arguing that the capital return will lead to weaker than expected cash-flow coverage measures than had been originally thought.