Both PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP) and Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE:KO) -- two of the world's largest snack-food and beverage companies -- have faced flagging sales and profits in North America in 2013 amid a push to compete for more market share in emerging markets.
PepsiCo, the world’s largest snack-maker and second-largest soft-drink maker, and Coca-Cola, the world's No. 1 soft-drink maker, both reported results roughly in line with analysts' already tepid expectations. That was partly due to a difficult second-quarter summer for Coke and a beverage sector that has broadly underperformed the market so far this year.
In the third quarter, Pepsi reported on Wednesday that it saw 4 percent growth in net revenue in developing and emerging markets. Coca-Cola, which reported a day earlier, didn't have a readily comparable figure. But Coke said its flagship Coca-Cola drink posted strong sales gains in Thailand (27 percent), India (22 percent) and Russia (11 percent).
Here's a closer look at how both companies are faring abroad. It’s important to note that PepsiCo's snacks business is a significant driver of profit and growth. Indeed, many analysts and investors argue that it's brand portfolio including Lay's potato chips and Doritos equals or beats its beverage business in importance.
Asia, Middle East & Africa
Pepsi reported organic revenue growth of 6 percent for the quarter, driven by pricing. But economic volatility and unfavorable foreign exchange markets translated into a 3 percent decline in net revenue.
Operating profit fell 7 percent for Pepsi’s sprawling regional unit, down to about $295 million from $317 million a year earlier. Revenue grew slowly, especially in India and Egypt. Pepsi cited foreign-exchange volatility and political unrest, respectively, in those countries.
Still, for the year to date, Pepsi performed better than it did in 2012, with a 60 percent boost in operating profit. Revenue has lagged that, declining 3 percent for the year to date, which suggests the company has cut costs considerably.
Coke also faced challenges. In Eurasia and Africa, net revenue fell 4 percent for the quarter, with net revenue in the Pacific -- which includes China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia -- down by 9 percent. Profit declined 6 percent in both regions.
Coke's profit in Eurasia and Africa improved in September 2013 compared to the nine months leading to September 2012, however. Sales volume also grew slightly, led by the Middle East and Africa.
Pepsi said that net revenue grew 3 percent for the quarter, capping off a steady year with a similar 3 percent rise for revenue in the year to date. Profit fared worse in Europe, with no advance over Pepsi’s position last year, for profits in the year to date.
Economic weakness in Europe, even as it slowly emerges from a continent-wide recession, has dampened consumer spending there. Pepsi didn’t mention Europe specifically in a slideshow accompanying its Wednesday morning earnings call.
Coke's sales in Europe fell 1 percent for the quarter and 2 percent for the year so far. The company blamed economic malaise in southern Europe. Profit rose 6 percent for the quarter there, however.
Russia is a key market for Pepsi on the continent, where it claims to be the leading snacks and drinks brand. One analyst flagged Russia’s economic weakness lately as signaling trouble for Pepsi before earnings.
Coke is pushing back in Russia, however, noting that its 3 percent sales increase there was lifted by Coca-Cola, Schweppes and Dobry, a popular Russian juice brand Coke acquired in 2005. A major summer marketing campaign also drove sales.
For Coke, Latin American quarterly sales didn’t grow from the year before, but were up 2 percent for the year to date. Key Brazil sales declined 1 percent, with Mexico declining 2 percent. The company cited a deteriorating economy in Brazil, and September hurricanes in Mexico.
Coke’s Latin America profit fell 2 percent in the quarter. But the company said it fought back by gaining market share in both still and sparking beverages.
Pepsi won 9 percent net revenue growth in Latin American foods. Pepsi doesn’t break out revenue and profit for its Latin American drinks business, but said Latin American drink sales rose 0.5 percent.
Pepsi’s overall Americas drink business, where Latin American drink financials are embedded, saw sales volumes tumble 4 percent, though it climbed back from an even worse second quarter.
Nat Rudarakanchana covers commodities and companies for the International Business Times. He is especially interested in precious metals, the food and drink industry, and...