Coca-Cola reported an effervescent fourth quarter on Tuesday, as the company sold more of its drinks globally and its earnings beat analyst expectations.
Coca-Cola is benefiting from raising prices in North America, where consumer sentiment is slowly improving, and expanding in emerging markets, including Africa and Latin America.
"Compared to 12 months ago, there are very early indications that the consumer (in North America) is feeling a little better, with more mobility, travel and eating out," said CEO Muhtar Kent in a telephone interview with the AP. "That all translates into better business for us."
Coca-Cola Company's fourth-quarter net income dropped 71 per cent, weighed down by restructuring charges and a difficult comparison with last year's fourth quarter, when the beverage maker had a hefty benefit from buying its bottlers.
But the Atlanta company said Tuesday its adjusted results topped Wall Street's expectations as it sold more drinks in the US and abroad, particularly in emerging markets.
"Even as we believe that global market volatility will continue in the near term, the breadth of our global footprint and the strength of our brands create a resilient business that was built for times like these," CEO Muhtar Kent said in a statement.
Shares of Coca-Cola rose 91 cents to US$68.94 in midday trading.
Coke also said it will start a cost-cutting programme in 2012 to save US$550 million to US$650 million annually by 2015 in part to help offset continued high commodity costs.
Coca-Cola, whose brands include Sprite and Minute Maid, earned US$1.65 billion, or 72 cents per share, for the period ended December 31. That's down sharply from US$5.77 billion, or US$2.46 per share, a year earlier.
But a year ago, the company had a one-time net gain of US$1.74 per share, mainly related to buying a bottler's North American operations.
Removing restructuring charges and other items, earnings were 79 cents per share. Analysts forecast 77 cents for the company, according to Fact Set.
Revenue increased 5 per cent to US$11.04 billion. It was helped by higher prices, strength overseas and solid results from the Coca-Cola brand, juices and teas. The figure just topped Wall Street's US$11 billion estimate.
Coca-Cola sold 3 per cent more of its drinks during the quarter, including a one per cent gain in Europe and North America and a four per cent gain in Eurasia and Africa and Latin America.
Coca-Cola, which has more than 500 brands, including Fanta, Sprite, Dasani and Minute Maid, has weathered the downturn by spending more on advertising, new products and plants.
The company, like many, also has turned overseas for growth, particularly emerging markets like India and China. And in North America, it is raising prices and offering smaller package sizes.
For the year, net income fell 27 per cent to US$8.57 billion, or US$3.69 per share. That compares with US$11.81 billion or US$5.06 per share last year.
Revenue rose 33 per cent to US$46.54 billion from US$35.12 billion.
Global volume grew 5 per cent during the year, helped by strength in emerging markets such as Latin America.
Coke's chief rival, Pepsico Inc, reports results Thursday.