Coca-Cola full year revenue fall on refranchising costs, currency headwinds

Beverage giant Coca-Cola on Thursday announced its results for full year 2018. The company reported a 10% decline in revenue to $31.9bn, down from $35.4bn in 2017, with sales falling 6% in the fourth quarter to $7.1bn. The company blamed the decline on costs associated with bottler refranchising of company owned operations and currency headwinds.

However, the company said it continued to gain value share in total non-alcoholic ready-to-drink (NARTD) beverages for the quarter and full year.

Commenting on the results, James Quincey, chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Company, said: “I am pleased with our strong organic revenue and earnings growth in 2018. Our results demonstrate progress in our transformation as a consumer-centric, total beverage company and the power of a more strategically aligned system,”

The company said that rising import and transportation costs last year forced it to raise prices on its soft drinks in North America. It warned that organic sales revenue were likely to slow in 2019 due to foreign exchange headwinds.

Sales of the companies sparkling soft drinks fell 1% in the fourth quarter, despite its popular Coca-Cola Zero Sugar drinks once again are seeing double-digit growth.

The company added that economic conditions in certain emerging markets, like Central America, offset growth in India and Central and Eastern Europe. In Argentina, unit case volume declined by double digits as the country entered a recession in the second half of 2019.

Coke’s fourth quarter net income returned to a positive of $870 million, up from a $2.75bn loss a year earlier due to a one-time net charge of $3.6bn it took in the fourth quarter of 2017 because of the new US tax rate, resulting in a net loss. Full year net income for 2018 rose to $6.4bn, from $1.24bn in 2017.

Looking to 2019, Coke said organic revenue growth is likely to be in the 4% range.

“We are being prudent in our outlook for 2019 given the multiple reductions in global economic growth outlook for 2018 and our own experiences in some of the emerging and developing markets,” Quincey said.

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