Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO), the giant beverage maker, said on Tuesday that net income fell 71 percent in the fourth quarter on substantial restructuring charges, but increased beverage sales helped the company beat Wall Street expectations. In addition, Coca-Cola announced a cost cutting plan to pay for rising commodity costs and bolster its brands.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola had earnings of 72 cents per share, down from $2.46 cents per share from the previous year. But discounting one-time expenses and gains, earnings were 79 cents per share, up from 72 cents in the previous year. Coa-Cola had a one-time profit of $1.74 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010 related to the acquisition of a North American bottler. Revenue was up 5.2 percent to $11.04 billion.
On the strength of a three percent increase in overall beverage sales, Coca-Cola beat forecasts by analysts polled by Factset, who expected earnings of 77 cents per share. Coca-Cola brand global volume rose by three percent globally, led by growth in Asia, with 33 percent growth in Thailand, 15 percent in India and 13 percent in China. Sales of its non-carbonated drinks, including teas, juices and energy beverages, increased by six percent.
The company said it is seeking to save $550 million to $650 million by 2015 through a cost-cutting program that will include streamlining its technology systems, standardizing business processes and making its global supply chain more efficient. It expects the total costs of integrating its Coca-Cola Refreshments unit to rise from $425 million to $800 million.
The savings from the program will be reinvested into marketing and used to offset increases in costs for commodities such as corn syrup, juices and packaging.
Even as we believe that global market volatility will continue in the near term, the breadth of our global footprint and the strength of our brands create a resilient business that was built for times like these, said Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, in a statement.
Coca Cola's main rival, PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP), reports earnings before markets open on Thursday.
Shares of Coca-Cola rose 54 cents to $68.57 in morning trading.