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Coca-Cola's Focus on Healthier Drinks Pays Off



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Coca-Cola Co. is getting results from its moves to slim down operations and revamp products for healthy-minded consumers.

The analysts' estimates in the first quarter of the year have been revised

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola has been selling it for a while to become a marketing and formulation company. After a lengthy transition period, the strategy is fruitful, with the company saying it's on-track to deliver full-year targets.

The growth of both new and core brands affirms the company's long-term strategy. Slow results previously failed to excite investors, putting Coke's stock in a holding pattern. That may now change. The shares gained as much as 1

.6 percent as of 7:42 a.m. in early trading in New York.

Chief Executive Officer James Quincey, 53, has pushed Coke to grow beyond his name to become a "total beverage company." Muhtar Kent. Coke's next $ 1 billion brand.

This is part of the company's key goal of reducing its dependence on soda: Per capita soft-drink consumption in the U.S. fell to a 31-year low in 2016, the latest year with data available.

Soda Slump

Carbonated soft drinks

Source: Beverage-Digest

19659014] But the company has not remained idle with its core brands. It recently relaunched Coke Zero and Diet Coke brands in a bid to revive their sales. Diet Coke has faced declining popularity as consumers. Eschew artificial sweeteners and opt for other kinds of beverages. Coca-Cola is now selling Diet Coke in new flavors and taller skinnier cans.

In the quarter, its Coca-Cola Zero Sugar brand saw double-digit growth, the company said. Diet Coke returned to positive volume growth in North America as a result of rebranding.

Profit was 47 cents a share, excluding some items, surpassing analysts' average estimate of 46 cents. Revenue was $ 7.6 billion.

Refreshing Water

Coca-Cola's results were also boosted by its portfolio of sparkling waters in the quarter. The carbonated versions of its Dasani and Smartwater brands saw double-digit growth. And the recent acquisition of Topo Chico's U.S. distribution rights paid off: The mineral water brand's retail value was up more than 30 percent in the quarter, Coke said.

In recent years, the company has been using its investment arm to acquire or take stakes in startups. These include Honest Tea, Fairlife dairy and Suja Life LLC, which makes high-pressure processed juices, kombucha and drinking vinegars. Coca-Cola is expanding its venture model beyond the U.S.

Coke has been stuck with a strategy of smaller, bolt-on acquisitions, but pressure may be rising for investment candidates in Central and Eastern Europe. Keurig Green Mountain Inc. – Formerly a Coca-Cola Investment – Recently Coca-Cola and the Pepper Snapple Group, Inc. (1965-902) agreed to take the third largest nonalcoholic beverage company in the US

chief rival PepsiCo Inc. has increased spending on e-commerce promotion. Amazon.com Inc.'s echoing and adding impulse-buying opportunities at click-and-collect pickup loops.


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