ATLANTA (AP) -- The Coca-Cola Co. reported a 12 percent increase in third-quarter earnings on strong growth in international operations and a 6 percent jump in revenue. The results, announced Thursday, beat Wall Street expectations.
The world's largest beverage maker said it earned $1.22 billion, or 50 cents a share, in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared to a profit of $1.09 billion, or 44 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.
Excluding one-time items _ a 1-cent a share reduction for previously announced streamlining initiatives and a 4-cent a share charge for a writedown of assets in Latin America by a bottling partner _ Coke said it earned $1.35 billion, or 55 cents a share.
Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 52 cents a share excluding one-time items.
Revenue rose to $5.66 billion from $5.32 billion for the year-ago quarter.
"We continue to improve our share position in many key markets around the world," said Doug Daft, Coke's chairman and chief executive officer. "Our priorities for increasing profitable growth are clear: build our brands through excellent marketing, improve the operational effectiveness of our entire system and relentless cost management."
Nonetheless, shares of Coke fell 39 cents to $44.71 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Chief financial officer Gary Fayard said Atlanta-based Coke will take a charge of $500 million for all of this year for its streamlining initiatives, which is $100 million higher than previously announced.
The initiatives include 1,000 jobs that Coke cut in its North American division in March.
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Executives said the international growth, led by China and several European countries, helped make up for flat unit case sales growth of 1 percent in North America.
"We're pleased, but we're not satisfied," president and chief operating officer Steve Heyer said in a conference call. "We still have some opportunities for improvement."
In China, unit case volume increased 24 percent during the third quarter. In the quarter, unit case volume grew 8 percent in Great Britain, 11 percent in Spain and 4 percent in Germany.
Challenges, however, remained in Japan and India. In Japan, unit case volume declined 6 percent in the third quarter due to cool and wet weather in July and August, though Heyer said things will improve there over time.
In India, Coke said its unit case volume declined, though it did not give a specific amount. It said its results were affected by false accusations about high levels of pesticides in soft drinks there.
Overall, Coke said it benefited in the quarter from growth in its water and specialty brands. Dasani grew by 16 percent in the quarter and Powerade grew by 21 percent.
The earnings report comes as Coke tries to refocus on building its business after settling an embarrassing lawsuit.
Earlier this month, Coke agreed to pay $540,000 to a former finance manager to settle a whistleblower lawsuit that led to a criminal investigation of the company.
Matthew Whitley sued for wrongful termination in state and federal court in May. The suit, among other things, accused Coke of rigging a marketing test three years ago to inflate the popularity of Frozen Coke at Burger King restaurants in Virginia.
The investigations by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission continue.
Coke has admitted undermining the test, and has said that the employees involved in the test were disciplined. Coke has offered Miami-based Burger King $21 million as part of an apology, and the Coke executive who oversaw the division responsible for the test stepped down in August.
For the first nine months of the year, Coke earned $3.42 billion, or $1.39 a share, compared to a profit of $2.12 billion, or 85 cents a share, for the same period in 2002. Nine-month revenue was $15.85 billion, a 7 percent increase from $14.77 billion in 2002.