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Drinks

Coke Bottler Sees Sales Rise As Regional Performances Offset Weak Russia

Coca-Cola HBC AG, the second-largest bottler of Coke products, increased its half-year profit and sales volume as a strong performance in Nigeria, Romania and Ukraine offset weakness in Russia. The shares rose more than 6 percent.

Net income at the Switzerland-based company increased 31.7 percent to 125 million euros ($139 million) year-on-year, even as revenue fell 1 percent to 3.15 billion euros because of an adverse currency impact.

Chief Executive Officer Dimitris Lois said in a statement that while “difficult conditions remain in many of our markets, particularly in Russia” he has become “more optimistic as the year has progressed” about growth in sales volume and operating profit margins.

Sales volume increased 3.8 percent in the period, benefited by four extra selling days in the first quarter.

The bottler buys concentrate from Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. and sells the products in Europe, Russia and Nigeria. It is listed in London and Athens and has a market value of 7.2 billion euros.

The company’s biggest market in volume terms is Russia and significant pressure on Russian consumer confidence, household incomes and the ruble threaten future headwinds for the company, George Doukas, an analyst at Piraeus Bank SA in Athens, said in a telephone interview ahead of the results. The company’s share price has closely tracked the value of the ruble since the start of this year.

Last week Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., another bottler of Coke products in Europe, agreed to a three-way merger with two other bottlers in the region creating the largest independent bottler for the famed soda brand.

Bloomberg News, edited by ESM. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.

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