Bottler’s share plunges on profit warning

Shares in the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, the world’s second-largest bottler of Coke products, tumbled 20 percent on the Athens bourse yesterday after the company revised downward its full-year guidance, citing adverse economic and weather conditions. The company, which operates in 28 countries, also blamed rising gasoline prices and a 12-day transportation strike in May in Greece, one of its key markets. «The economic environment in some of our markets, particularly Italy, Ukraine and Romania, has become increasingly challenging with early signs of rising food and fuel prices adversely impacting consumer sentiment and restricting spending,» the company said. The bottling company expects 2008 volume growth to reach about 6 percent, versus the previous 7 percent forecast, and earnings per share of 1.37-1.40 euros, as opposed to the initially projected -1.46 to -1.49 range. In response to the news, Proton Securities cut its target price on the share to 21 euros from 26 euros previously. Shares in the Coke bottler ended the session down 20.82 percent at 21.30 euros, underperforming a 2.6 percent retreat on the Athens bourse.