• Solid worldwide unit case volume growth of 2 percent in the quarter; International unit case volume growth of 3 percent.
  • Global volume and value share gains continued across key markets and categories.
  • Currency neutral comparable operating income growth exceeded the Company's long-term currency neutral profit target.
  • First quarter reported EPS was $0.58. Comparable EPS was $0.65, down 3 percent versus prior year reflecting negative currency impact.
  • Productivity initiatives accelerating and on track to deliver $500 million in annualized savings by year-end 2011.

ATLANTA --  The Coca-Cola Company today reported solid first quarter 2009 results despite a challenging economic environment, with unit case volume increasing 2 percent, successfully cycling 6 percent growth in the prior year quarter. Acquisitions contributed 1 percentage point of unit case volume growth for the quarter.

Internationally, the Company achieved broad-based unit case volume growth of 3 percent. Unit case volume increased in key emerging markets, with 31 percent growth in India, 10 percent growth in China, high single-digit growth in Southern Eurasia, Thailand and Vietnam and mid single-digit growth in Korea and Nigeria.

During the quarter, Latin America continued with strong unit case volume growth of 5 percent, led by a 6 percent increase in Mexico and a 4 percent increase in Brazil, as well as continued volume and value share gains in both sparkling and still beverages.

Europe outperformed the industry and gained volume and value share. Unit case volume growth of 3 percent in Northwest Europe was offset by significant macroeconomic challenges in Central and Eastern Europe resulting in unit case volume for the group declining 2 percent in the quarter, cycling 4 percent growth in the prior year quarter.

North America again outperformed the industry, gaining nonalcoholic ready-to-drink share for the fifth consecutive quarter. North America realized sequential improvement with unit case volume declining 2 percent in the quarter.

In Japan, unit case volume was even, outperforming the nonalcoholic ready-to-drink industry and resulting in the fourth consecutive quarter of share gains.

Sparkling beverage unit case volume was even in the quarter. International sparkling beverage unit case volume increased 1 percent in the quarter, cycling 5 percent growth.

Still beverage unit case volume increased 9 percent in the quarter, led by strong growth across the portfolio, including juices and juice drinks, sports drinks, teas, and water brands. International still beverage unit case volume increased 13 percent in the quarter.

Globally, the Company gained volume and value share in nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverages for the seventh consecutive quarter.

Financial Highlights
The Company reported first quarter 2009 earnings per share of $0.58. After considering items impacting comparability, earnings per share for the quarter were $0.65, a decrease of 3 percent versus the 2008 first quarter. Reported earnings per share for the first quarter of 2009 included a net charge of $0.07 per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Reported earnings per share for the first quarter of 2008 were $0.64, including a net charge of $0.03 per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Results in the first quarter of 2009 were also positively impacted by 5 additional selling days, which will offset in the fourth quarter.

Operating income for the first quarter of 2009 decreased 1 percent on a reported basis versus the first quarter of 2008. Items impacting comparability reduced first quarter operating income by $92 million in 2009 and by $85 million in 2008. After considering these items, operating income was even. Excluding the impact of currency, operating income increased 17 percent, exceeding the Company's currency neutral long-term profit target.

In February, the Company approved its 47th consecutive annual dividend increase, raising the 2009 quarterly dividend 8 percent.

The Company is currently on track to deliver $500 million in annualized savings from productivity initiatives by year-end 2011. The continued acceleration of these efforts will enable cash flows to be redeployed to drive investments for growth.

"While the global economic environment remains challenging, we are well positioned for long-term growth. Our business was built for times like these," said Muhtar Kent, president and chief executive officer, The Coca-Cola Company. "We again exceeded our long-term profit target and delivered solid volume results. Importantly, in many worldwide markets, we outperformed the nonalcoholic ready-to-drink industry, driving further volume and value share gains. I am confident that, armed with strong brands and solid business fundamentals, our experienced management team will continue delivering against our long-term targets."

"Consumers around the world love and trust our brands and turn to us to provide simple moments of refreshment nearly 1.6 billion times every day. And every week, our system reaches 20 million customers around the world with innovative, category-leading brands and services that deliver at the point-of-sale. There really is no better consumer business to be in today...or tomorrow."

"Further, our business has historically generated significant cash flow in all economic conditions, enabling us to invest in key brands and geographies, and consistently return value to our shareowners. This is clearly reflected by our 47th consecutive annual dividend increase and the continued investment behind our growing stable of billion dollar brands."

"Our strong foundation, consistent set of strategic priorities, and alignment with our invaluable bottling partners were drivers of our continued success this quarter. Our system is truly like no other, and is now more aligned and more capable of creating value for our consumers, our customers, and our shareowners. All of this provides us confidence that The Coca-Cola Company will continue to deliver consistent, long-term sustainable growth and with great resolve will come out of this tumultuous period much better than when we entered."

(All references to growth rate percentages and share compare the results of the period to those of the prior year comparable period.)
(All references to unit case volume percentage changes are computed based on average daily sales for the first quarter.)

Review the complete first quarter 2009 results