Coca-Cola HBC AG has reported annual profit ahead of market expectations, led by higher demand for low-sugar and energy drinks, the drinks bottler said in a statement.
Coca-Cola HBC is one of Coca-Cola's many bottlers worldwide and holds local Coca-Cola franchises to bottle and sell drinks produced by the beverage giant, which holds a roughly 23% stake in the Switzerland-headquartered company.
'Consistent And Disciplined Focus'
“The business has delivered a very strong recovery in 2021, with all key metrics above pre-pandemic levels, the result of consistent and disciplined focus on our strategic priorities over the last few years," commented Zoran Bogdanovic, chief executive.
"We finished the year with strong revenue growth, our highest ever EBIT margin and free cash flow while continuing to gain share. This performance demonstrates the strength of our 24/7 brand portfolio, revenue growth management capabilities and execution excellence in our markets."
Bognadovic added, however, that the group is "mindful of inflationary headwinds", and praised the firm's workforce for their efforts in helping the company navigate the "volatile operating environment".
The company raised its dividend payout range to 40% to 50% from 35% to 45%.
FTSE 100-listed Coca Cola HBC, which operates in 29 countries across Europe and Africa, said comparable operating profit for the year ended December 31 jumped nearly 24% to €831 million, topping a company-provided market estimate of €797.6 million.
Soft drink makers such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have flagged profit pressures for this year from a relentless rise in costs related to labour, shipping and aluminium cans, pushing them to hike prices.
The London-listed company said emerging markets like-for-like revenue jumped 27% on a constant currency basis, with Nigeria, Russia, and Ukraine showing strong momentum.