Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc raised its profit outlook for 2009 and said earnings should rise in a high single-digit percentage rate in 2010 as it works on drawing consumers to its drinks.
The largest bottler of Coca-Cola Co beverages said it planned to start repurchasing shares during the first quarter of 2010 and should buy back about $600 million worth of the shares by the end of next year. It also aims to increase its dividend annually.
Shares of Coke Enterprises were down 1.1 percent at $19.82 in a single premarket trade.
Coke Enterprises plans to elaborate on its expectations during a conference call with analysts and investors later on Thursday morning.
The company, which bottles and distributes products ranging from Coca-Cola and Sprite to Minute Maid juice and Powerade sports drinks, has seen sales suffer as consumers avoid higher-priced drinks and cut back on dining out.
It has worked to protect its profit with price increases and plans such as selling 16-ounce cold bottles of Coca-Cola for 99 cents to revive U.S. sales.
Chairman and Chief Executive John Brock said his company would continue to work closely with Coke to address the challenging North American market in 2010.
The company said it now expects to earn $1.56 to $1.59 per share this year, compared with October's forecast of $1.54 to $1.57. Analysts had been looking for a profit of $1.57 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company's 2009 forecast includes a hit from currency fluctuations and excludes other items.
Coke Enterprises expects revenue to rise in a low to mid single-digit percentage range this year, excluding the impact of currency. Including the currency hit, reported revenue should decline slightly.
Looking ahead to 2010, Coke Enterprises said it expects mid single-digit operating income growth in both Europe and North America. Revenue should rise at a low single-digit rate, driven by mid single-digit growth in Europe and slight growth in North America.
The company's 2010 profit view, which calls for comparable earnings per share to rise in a high single-digit percentage rate, excludes the impact of currency. At current rates, currency would add about 4 cents per share to profit, Coke Enterprises said.
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