NEW YORK – Coca-Cola reported a higher quarterly profit as the world’s biggest beverage maker managed to sell more of its drinks despite choppy economic conditions.
The maker of Sprite, Powerade and Vitaminwater said global sales volume edged up 2 percent for its third quarter, helped by its performance in countries such as China, India and Russia.
Still, the company conceded that it was facing an economic slowdown in many parts of the world including Mexico, where the government is also considering a tax on sugary soft drinks.
In a conference call with analysts, CEO Muhtar Kent pushed back at the suggestion that the company’s days of growth were coming to an end. He noted that the company is emphasizing affordability and smaller packages to “keep the drinkers base growing” in developing markets.
That strategy is critical for “when economies also start turning up and when disposable incomes start heading north,” he said.
In the U.S., where soda has been under fire as well for fueling obesity rates, the Atlanta-based company rolled out smaller cans and bottles of soda that are more profitable and better suit the reduced portions people are seeking. Coca-Cola is also focusing on other drinks, such as flavored water, as Americans continue to cut back on soda.
In North America, for instance, soda volume was flat for the period, following a 4 percent decline in the previous quarter and flat growth a year ago. But uncarbonated drinks such as tea, juice and bottled water rose 5 percent. That lifted overall volume for the region by 2 percent.
For the quarter, the company said it earned $2.45 billion, or 54 cents per share, up from $2.31 billion, or 50 cents per share, a year ago.
Not including one-time items, earnings per share were 53 cents, which was in line with Wall Street expectations.
Revenue fell 3 percent to $12.03, hurt by structural changes and unfavorable currency exchange rates. Analysts had expected $12.05 billion, according to FactSet.
The results for the quarter were boosted by a gain related to a bottling transaction in Brazil.
Shares of Coca-Cola Co. rose 1.6 percent at $38.51. Over the past year, the stock is down almost 1 percent.