Coca-Cola released its fourth quarter earnings report before opening bell this morning, posting comparable earnings of 38 cents per share, which was ahead of consensus at 37 cents, and $10 billion in revenue, which also edged out consensus at $9.9 billion. In the fourth quarter of 2014, Coca-Cola reported sales of $10.9 billion. Management said organic revenue declined because there were six fewer days in the fiscal year 2015.
Coca-Cola’s profits rise
Reported earnings were 28 cents per share, compared to the year-ago quarter’s 17 cents. Coca-Cola said the 10 cent difference was mostly noncash refranchising-related charges and costs associated with the productivity program, which had been announced previously. The beverage maker reported a 13-point currency headwind on comparable operating income and 10-point headwind on comparable pretax income and earnings per share.
The beverage maker said global volumes increased 3% year over year for the fourth quarter, while global price per mix increased 2% as a result of improved execution. Sparkling beverages volume grew 2%, while still beverages increased 6%. Concentrate volumes fell 3%. Coca-Cola management said the company gained both volume and value share in nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverages. The Coca-Cola brand grew 1% in the fourth quarter, while Sprite improved 3% and Coca-Cola Zero grew 7%, although a 5% decline in Diet Coke and Coke Light partially offset that increase.
Unit case volume in Eurasia and Africa grew 2%, while Europe saw a 3% increase in case volume. Case volume in Latin America grew 2%, while North American volumes improved 3%. In the Asia Pacific region, unit case volume increased 5% year over year.
Coca-Cola provides guidance
Coca-Cola also announced today that it will speed up the refranchising plan that was previously announced. Management intends to refranchise all of the North American company-owned bottling facilities by the end of next year. That includes all cold-fill production facilities. In China, the beverage maker also signed a nonbinding letter of intent to refranchise its owned bottling facilities in the region to its current partners: China Foods Limited, which is part of COFCO Limited, and Swire Beverage
For 2016, management expects earnings to grow by between 4% and 6% on a currency neutral basis, including three to four points of structural headwinds which mostly are related to refranchising. They expect organic revenue to grow by 4% to 5% this year with a four- to five-point headwind due to acquisitions and divestures.
Shares of Coca-Cola were inactive in premarket trading as of this writing.