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Coke warns of slowing sales
CEO: Third-quarter results are "symptoms of problems that demand strong corrective actions'

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/15/04

In prepared statements, his first about the business since rejoining Coke June 1, Isdell said he isn't satisfied with the company's current results. Troubles are most pronounced in Germany, North America and key parts of Europe.


"I came back to lead a growth business," Isdell said. "I believe this is still a growth company, and my intention is to put it back on track."

In a first-time break with company policy, Coke also provided guidance about expected earnings per share for the second half and third quarter. Coke expects EPS of 88 cents to 92 cents in the second half of the year, and a range of 46 to 48 cents for the third quarter.

It has been nearly two years since Coke stopped the practice of issuing earnings guidance, a move that was followed by a number of other companies.

On sales volume, Coke expects third-quarter results to be flat to up just 1 percent, with continuing softness in the fourth quarter. For the year, volume is likely to grow a scant 1 to 2 percent.

Over the last two weeks, it has become clear that Coke faces several significant challenges. The company's biggest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises, last week cut its earnings and volume expectations sharply, prompting a sell-off on Wall Street.

Analysts have issued a flurry of predictions about Coke's future, too. On Monday, Bill Pecoriello of Morgan Stanley cut his projections for Coke's performance, citing a host of troubles.

Coke's news, released early in the morning, came out before a conference call scheduled by Isdell.

In comments issued before the call, Isdell said Coke's third-quarter results are "symptoms of problems that demand strong corrective actions and initiatives that will put this company firmly on its proper growth course. That is my unmistakable and immediate objective."

The fact that Isdell decided to break his silence is a sign of the seriousness of the issues facing Coca-Cola. When he took the top job at Coke, Isdell pledged to spend 120 days reacquainting himself with the company, and he declined to offer comments to the outside world.

Isdell's 120 days don't end for another two weeks.

While Coke faces challenges in several key areas, the most prominent are in North America, the company's biggest market. Coke said it is seeing unfavorable sales volume trends in its bottle-and-can beverage business.

"While the retail environment is difficult, we have not reacted as quickly or as effectively as I would like," he said

Of course they are having problems in North America! People are fed up with big corporations ramming political correctness down our throats. Join the Boycott Coke effort until this company gets out of politics and gives up its politically correct anti-Southern agenda! If you have not already done so, sign the online petition today:

The Coca-Cola Company Should Get Out of Politics Petition

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