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Coca-Cola’s profit dips as soda declines at home

By Candice Choi
Associated Press

Coca-Cola’s profit dipped in the latest quarter as the world’s largest beverage maker sold less soda in its flagship North American market.

The Atlanta company, which makes Dasani, Powerade and Sprite, said Tuesday that global volume rose 1 percent in the quarter, helped by sales in countries including Vietnam and Indonesia. But in North America, it fell 1 percent, including a 4 percent drop in sodas.

The company blamed the performance on bad weather and challenging economic conditions.

Coke’s shares fell more than 3 percent in premarket trading.

Coca-Cola has increasingly been relying on emerging markets for growth, given the expanding middle-class populations in such regions. Back at home, the company is battling a years-long decline in soda consumption and criticism that its drinks fuel obesity.

As Americans cut back on soda, the company has also been pushing drinks such as Dasani, Powerade and SmartWater. It said overall volume for uncarbonated drinks rose 5 percent in North America for the three months ended June 28.

Along with rival PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola is also working on coming up with a soda formula that uses a natural, low-calorie sweetener. The challenge is that such sweeteners often have a bad aftertaste. But executives at both companies have nevertheless expressed optimism that such a drink can help halt the industry’s slide.

Volume for Europe also declined 4 percent for the period. The region encompassing Africa, the Middle East and Russia saw a 9 percent increase in volume. The Asia region rose 2 percent, with volume in China even from a year ago.

For the second quarter, Coca-Cola Co. said it earned $2.68 billion, or 59 cents per share. That’s down 4 percent from $2.79 billion, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it earned 63 cents per share, in line with Wall Street expectations.

Revenue fell to $12.75 billion, short of the $12.95 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet.

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