ECONOMY

Coke bottler ups outlook

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co (CCHBC) raised its full-year guidance yesterday after it reported double-digit growth in nine-month net profit as strong emerging markets more than offset restructuring costs. CCHBC, the world’s second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola drinks, raised its full-year forecasts for earnings per share (EPS) to 1.54-1.56 euros from 1.50-1.53 to reflect lower taxation this year and strong organic growth. It also upgraded its 2006 volume growth forecasts to 11 percent from 9 percent. The figures include CCHBC’s acquisitions in the non-carbonated soft-drinks segment earlier in the year. «Continued strong organic volume growth in the third quarter, together with effective execution of revenue growth strategies, has enabled us to maintain our positive earnings momentum despite persistent raw material cost pressures,» CCHBC’s Chief Executive Doros Constantinou said in a statement. CCHBC shares rose 3,74 percent to 26.60 euros, outperforming the broader Greek market which was 0.51 percent up. «The fact the CCHBC has raised its 2006 EPS guidance and posted strong volume growth in the nine-month period is seen very positively for the bottler,» said an analyst who declined to be named. The bottler said nine-month net profit rose 13 percent to 340.5 million euros, meeting market expectations, as a 16 percent sales volume growth in emerging markets more than offset a 42.2-million-euro charge for restructuring in Greece, Nigeria, Ireland, Croatia and Bulgaria. Group sales volume rose 12 percent to 1.36 million unit cases, with sales revenues up 17 percent to 4.3 billion euros. CCHBC said its profits will continue growing next year despite persistently high raw material costs. «We are still very comfortable with our long-term growth model to deliver against those targets,» CCHBC’s CFO Nik Jhangiani told Reuters in a telephone interview. «We will appropriately price through what we can pass through to the consumer, we are reinvesting more money into marketing.» Third-quarter net profit rose 14 percent to 167.1 million euros ($214.9 million), meeting analysts’ forecast for net profit of 162.65 million euros on average. (Reuters)