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A Coke And A Frown


Rising costs take fizz out of quarter.

Coca-Cola's (KO) second-quarter profit plunged 23% on a one-time charge related to its bottler.

But don't fret: There appears to be some fizz left in the stock. The company plans to boost shareholder value by buying back shares of its stock valued at $1.75 billion to $2 billion this year.

The Atlanta-based company said it earned $1.42 billion, or $0.61 per share, in the second quarter, compared with $1.85 billion, or $0.80 a share, for the same period last year. Excluding the one-time charge, the company earned $1.01 a share, beating analysts' estimates of $0.96.

Revenue was $9.05 billion, up 17% from last year's $7.73 billion in revenue.

Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola's president and CEO, said that the company is "clearly operating in a more challenging macroeconomic environment...A strength of our system is the ability to work with our bottling partners and customers to understand the local factors impacting consumer behavior, adjust our plans where appropriate while continuing to invest and build share for the long term."

International volume grew 5% and overall volume was up 3%. However, higher sales in China, Eastern Europe and Latin American weren't enough to offset sluggish sales in the United States, where customers are buying fewer soft drinks and less bottled water. Last June, the company bought Glaceau's Vitaminwater for $4.1 billion.

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) wrote down $5.3 billion, reflecting the lower value of the franchise and higher ingredient costs. Cola-Cola owns 35% of the bottler and said this reduced its earnings by $0.40 per share.

Coca-Cola Enterprises reported a second quarter loss of $3.17 billion. It expects to boost U.S. prices after Labor Day.

In mid-morning trading, Coca-Cola's stock was off $1.79 a share, or 3.42%, at $50.55.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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