ECONOMY

Coca-Cola HBC helped by diversity

Coca-Cola HBC, the second-largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world, more than doubled net profits in the first nine months of the year on a constant territory basis as its diverse portfolio of markets helped it ride out a spell of bad summer weather in Europe. Net profits rose to 82 million euros from 24 million euros in the same period last year on a constant territory basis, with the results adjusted for the acquisition of bottling operations in Russia and the Baltic countries as if they had been purchased at the beginning of 2001. Net profits in the third quarter rose to 65.1 million euros, up 70 percent on a reported basis and 56 percent on a constant territory basis. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the year to September amounted to 495 million euros, up 16 percent on a reported basis and up 14 percent on a constant territory basis. «Net profits were better than expected while EBITDA also improved,» said Christina Vitzilaiou of Intersec. Irial Finan, managing director, said full year targets were on track based on the results and that the diverse mix of markets compensated for the poor summer conditions in Europe. «… Our performance to date remains very strong and in line with our full year targets. Our performance for the third quarter is more than satisfactory, reflecting our ability to manage all aspects of our business and the diversity of our portfolio of markets, despite the poor weather conditions in Europe,» he said, reiterating the expected EBITDA growth of 14-16 percent and volume growth of 6-7 percent for the full year. The poor weather conditions took a toll on volume in the established market, down by 1 percent in the third quarter but up 3 percent over nine months. EBITDA was up 4 percent. In the developing market sector, high volume in Poland and the Baltic states offset declines in Hungary, the Czech Republic and Croatia which were hit by bad weather. EBITDA over nine months grew by 17 percent and by 15 percent in the third quarter. Emerging markets outperformed, with volume in the nine months up by 11 percent and in the third quarter increasing by 8 percent. EBITDA improved by 41 percent over nine months and by 20 percent in the third quarter. Coca-Cola HBC listed on the New York Stock Exchange on October 10 this year in a bid to improve its international visibility. Its Athens-listed shares soared 6.82 percent to close at 15.04 euros yesterday.