Flagging sales in recession-hit Europe and restructuring costs in its home market have taken the fizz out of profits at United States soft drinks giant Coca-Cola.
The group said that it had made $1.75 billion (£1.14bn) in the first three months of the year, compared with $2.05bn a year earlier, though the result was better than expected by analysts. Revenues dipped by 1 per cent to $11.04bn. Sales in Africa and Eurasia leapt by 9 per cent, although much of that was down to Coke’s takeover of Saudi Arabia bottler Aujan.
The firm also unveiled a deal to unload some distribution to five US bottlers. The transaction by the maker of Fanta, Minute Maid and Sprite is not a surprise, but comes earlier than expected. The group aims to return to a franchise model in which it sells a syrup to bottlers, who then package and distribute it.
Coke boss Muhtar Kent said that the firm had “once again delivered solid growth against the backdrop of a still uncertain global economy”.