April 24, 2018 / 11:26 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Coca-Cola sales surge after Diet Coke reboot

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By Nivedita Balu and Siddharth Cavale

April 24 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co beat Wall Street estimates with quarterly results on Tuesday, citing more demand for Coke Zero Sugar and new flavors under its Diet Coke brand as overall revenue topped expectations by around $300 million.

Net profit also beat consensus forecasts by 1 cent per share, the drink maker said, and its shares rose about 1 percent to $44.44 in premarket trade.

The company said the launch of its popular low-calorie Diet Coke in sleeker tins and flavors including ginger-lime and feisty cherry drove Diet Coke volumes up 3 percent, marking a return to growth for the brand in North America.

Overall, volumes rose 3 percent, with growth in both sodas and teas and coffees driving much of the gains. Organic sales, that exclude gains from acquisitions or divestitures, rose 5 percent in the first quarter.

“We’re encouraged with our first quarter performance...We have the right strategies in place and remain confident in our ability to achieve our full year guidance,” James Quincey, chief executive of Coca-Cola said.

The strong results come as Coke diversifies its portfolio to include more low-sugar drinks with fewer calories to appeal to consumers reaching for healthier produce, while simultaneously spending more on marketing its core Coca-Cola brands.

Coca-Cola maintained its outlook for organic sales growth and earnings per share for the full year.

The Fanta and Sprite maker’s net profit rose to $1.37 billion, or 32 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 30 from $1.18 billion, or 27 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Coke earned 47 cents per share, compared to analysts’ estimate of 46 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net revenue fell 16 percent to $7.63 billion, due to the divestment of its bottling operations, but beat analysts’ estimate of $7.34 billion. (Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham)

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