Coca-Cola 4Q11 Sales Beat Expectations

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ATLANTA—The Coca-Cola Company released its fourth quarter 2011 financials that beat expectations and long-term growth targets for non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages, sparkling and still beverages. The company experienced strong full-year global volume growth of 5% led by the Coca-Cola brand, up 3% for both the full year and the quarter.

Coca-Cola’s Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent attributed the solid success to the company’s stronger brands, clear strategies and well-focused execution to drive further growth. The company achieved financial results for both the year and the quarter in line with, or ahead of, its long-term targets, with quarterly volume and revenue growth in every one of its five geographic operating groups. More importantly, the company increased its global volume by 5% and its value share by 3% in the quarter, driven by solid international volume growth of 4% and North America volume growth of 1%.

While the company saw solid growth in developed markets like North America, Japan and Germany, double-digit growth in key emerging markets like India and China helped propel sales.

Continued focus and investment in its brands helped the sparkling beverages sector reap gains in global volume and value share for the year and 4Q11. Worldwide sparkling beverage volume grew 2% in 4Q11, with international sparkling beverage volume up 3% as Coca-Cola continued to focus on innovative, globally scaled marketing campaigns. For the full year, worldwide sparkling beverage volume grew 4%.

Diversification into other categories targeting health-conscious consumers helped worldwide still beverage volume grow by 8% for the full year and 6% in the quarter. Growth was led by ready-to-drink teas, juices and juice drinks, energy drinks and water brands. International still beverage volume grew 10% for the full year and 7% in the quarter, and North America still beverage volume grew 4% for the full year and 3% in the quarter. Minute Maid Pulpy garnered an impressive 20% volume growth in 2011, while energy drinks volume grew 19% in the quarter. Sustainable, plant-based packaging was also cited as notable development.

Key takeaway from Coca-Cola’s financial report it the fact that the company leveraged its brands and marketing strategies to secure success during a time when consumers are still watching their purse strings. Building brand loyalty is paramount for success in any business, let alone consumer packaged goods. Additional information on brand-building in today's market is available in the on-demand video “How and When Does R&D, Product Development, Ingredient and Marketing Converge in Building a Beverage Brand?" led by executives from both Coke and Pepsi on the SupplySide Store.

If you want to chime in on the direction the beverage industry is taking and the factors driving current and future business, check out the discussion currently taking place on the SupplySide Community.

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