Coca-Cola Co. beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue on Friday as customers took to smaller-sized cans of its pop, including Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, prompting the beverage maker to give an upbeat forecast for 2019.
Faltering demand for sugary drinks has forced the world’s two largest beverage makers, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo Inc., to roll out low-sugar drinks, while diversifying into coffee, tea and bottled waters to boost sales.
Coca-Cola has also been rolling out new products such as Coca-Cola Plus Coffee, a blend of its trademark soda with coffee in more than 20 markets, as well as drinks in small but high-margin packs that are appealing to consumers who are turning more health conscious.
The beverage maker is launching Coca-Cola Energy, its first Coke-branded energy drink, in the United States, and has expanded its coffee business with the multibillion-dollar purchase of British-based Costa Coffee last year.
Volume in sparkling soft drinks rose 2 per cent in the quarter, driven by double-digit percentage growth in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Sprite in North America.
Strong growth was also seen in its smaller package drinks, led by double-digit growth in 7.5-ounce mini-cans.
Organic revenue, that excludes the impact of currency fluctuations, acquisitions and divestitures, climbed 5 per cent during the quarter, above the average analyst estimate of 4.3 per cent, according to five analysts polled by Refinitiv.
Shares of the Atlanta-based company rose 2 per cent before the opening bell, adding to the 14 per cent they have gained this year.
“We were very impressed with Coca-Cola’s better-than-expected top line,” Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog said.
Coca-Cola also said it now expects full-year organic revenue growth to be at least 5 per cent, from its previous forecast of 5 per cent growth.
Over all, revenue rose 8.3 per cent to US$9.51-billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 27, beating the average analyst estimate of US$9.43-billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Excluding items, Coca-Cola earned 56 US cents a share, inline with estimates.
The beverage maker maintained its full-year profit forecast even as it lowered its capital expenditure forecast for the year to about US$2.2-billion from its prior target of about US$2.4-billion.
Earlier in the month, PepsiCo also reported better-than-expected quarterly profit and sales, benefiting from an advertising blitz and demand for its low-calorie beverages in North America.