Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc's
The soft drink maker also forecast a full-year profit that could top analysts' estimates as its brands, which include 7UP, Dr Pepper and A&W, outperform the overall industry as cash-strapped consumers seek out value-priced drinks.
Our (carbonated soft drink) case volume contracted only slightly at a time when liquid refreshment beverages declined low single-digits, Chief Executive Larry Young said in a statement. Weak demand for our premium products, especially Snapple, continued during the fourth quarter and into 2009.
Aside from weakness of Snapple, whose sales fell 17 percent, the company's value-priced brands seem to be off to a good start this year, said JP Morgan analyst John Faucher.
We continue to believe that the entire North American beverage group will outperform, and while we like other names better ... Dr Pepper Snapple should benefit, Faucher said in a research note.
On a net basis, the company's loss was $621 million, or $2.44 per share, in the fourth quarter, versus a net profit of $138 million, or 54 cents per share, a year ago.
Results were hurt by a $696 million impairment charge to write down the values of its goodwill and distribution rights and the Snapple brand, whose premium price has led to ongoing sales declines.
Excluding the impairment charge and restructuring charges, the company earned 39 cents per share, topping analysts' average estimate of 37 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.
Net sales were $1.38 billion, down slightly from $1.39 billion a year ago, hurt by the stronger U.S. dollar, which reduces the value of international sales.
Excluding the impact of losing U.S. distribution of vitaminwater and Monster Energy drinks to larger rival Coca-Cola Co
Price increases, expanded distribution of the Crush soft drink, and a build-up of inventories by third-party bottlers ahead of a January increase in concentrate prices helped.
The company forecast full-year earnings of $1.59 to $1.67 per share, excluding a one-time gain of 12 cents per share related to the termination of a contract with Hansen Natural Corp
It forecast sales to decline 2 percent to 4 percent from the $5.71 billion in sales it had in 2008.
Analysts on average were expecting $1.60 per share for the full year on sales of $5.55 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.
Dr Pepper shares were up $1.39 at $16.90 on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Dave Zimmerman)