Coke profit tops expectations, helped by price hikes

NEW YORK (AP) — Coca-Cola reported a quarterly profit today that beat Wall Street expectations as the world's largest beverage maker raised prices to offset slower growth.

The maker of Sprite, Dasani, Powerade and other drinks said its global volume rose 1 percent, reflecting gains in both soda and noncarbonated drinks.

In its flagship North America market, overall volume was flat. The company sold 1 percent less soda, reflecting the ongoing move away from traditional carbonated drinks. One recent drag on soda has been the fading popularity of Diet Coke. The drink declined 5 percent in the region, while Coke Zero, a newer diet soda, declined 1 percent, said Kathy Waller, Coke's chief financial officer.

"We're doing a lot of work in North America to understand what's going on," Waller said of the decline of diet sodas.

The overall soda decline in North America was offset by a 2 percent increase in noncarbonated drinks, such as bottled teas. Higher pricing helped drive up revenue.

Coca-Cola Co. says it is focusing less on volume growth and instead focusing on driving up revenue by mixing up the type of packages it sells. For instance, the Atlanta-based company has been pushing its mini-cans and glass bottles more aggressively, which are positioned as premium offerings and tend to fetch higher prices per ounce.

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