Coca-Cola exceeds expectations

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“The progress we have made in 2020, including actions to accelerate the company’s transformation, ensures that we will return to growth this year,” said James Quincey, CEO of the Atlanta-based group.

(Washington) US soft drinks giant Coca-Cola, which again saw sales and profit decline in the fourth quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic, nevertheless exceeded market expectations and expressed optimism for 2021.

Coca-Cola, which says it has lost market share due in part to soda fountain closures, reported a 5% decline in sales to $8.61 billion in the final quarter of 2020, with net income of $1.45 billion, down 29%.

However, the soda producer was more profitable than the markets had expected: adjusted earnings per share, the benchmark in North America, came to $0.47 compared with the $0.42 expected.

For the full year of 2020, Coca-Cola posted a net profit of $7.74 billion, down 13% year-on-year, on sales of $33.01 billion (-11%).

“The progress we have made in 2020, including actions to accelerate the company’s transformation, ensures that we will return to growth this year,” said James Quincey, CEO of the Atlanta-based group.

“While there remain short-term uncertainties, we are well positioned to emerge stronger from this crisis,” he added in a statement.

To cope with a drop in sales as a result of the pandemic restrictions, Coca-Cola has begun a major staff restructuring, cutting thousands of jobs. The group, which has more than 86,000 employees, had announced at the end of December that it was cutting 2,200 employees.

For 2021, the distributor of Coca-Cola, but also of Fanta, Sprite and Dasani expects organic growth in the low double digits, according to the press release.

Coca-Cola was up 1.33% in early trading on Wall Street.

In the last quarter, it was in the United States where the volume of sales was the most marked (-7%) with the closure of soda fountain taps in bars and restaurants due to the restriction measures linked to the pandemic.

Sales volume also declined by 4% in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and Asia.

In Latin America, on the other hand, sales returned to modest growth (+2%) thanks to the success of sparkling sodas in Brazil, which offset the slowdown in Mexico.

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