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Coca-Cola profit beats as volume grows

By Martinne Geller

Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) reported higher-than-expected quarterly results on Tuesday after the world’s largest soft drink maker raised some prices and sold more beverages.

The maker of Sprite, Minute Maid orange juice and vitaminwater also said it was on track with a productivity program aiming to save $550 million to $650 million a year by the end of 2015.

Coke shares rose 1 percent to $73.18 per share in premarket trading.

Soft drink sales have been strong in developing markets such as India and China with increasing numbers of middle class consumers. But growth has been harder to come by in the mature markets of Western Europe and North America, where growing health consciousness and struggling economies have curbed demand.

Still, Coke said quarterly volume rose 2 percent in North America and 1 percent in Europe. Volume also rose 5 percent in Latin America, 9 percent in Eurasia and Africa and 8 percent in the Pacific region. Overall, volume rose 5 percent.

First-quarter net profit was $2.05 billion, or 89 cents per share, up from $1.90 billion, or 82 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $11.14 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 87 cents per share on revenue of $10.82 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In the key North American market, revenue rose 5 percent, helped by a 3 percentage point increase in price and mix of products and the acquisition of a small bottler. Profit in the segment declined though, due to higher commodity costs and one less selling day.

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in New York; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman)

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