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Coca-Cola’s strong quarter fueled by higher prices

Coke said its revenue rose 5% to $11 billion for the January-March period

Beneficios Coca Cola
Multi can packs of Coca Cola and Diet Coke are seen for sale in a motorway services shop in January 2019.PETER CZIBORRA (REUTERS)

Coca-Cola Co. reported higher-than-expected sales in the first quarter as it continued to hike prices and saw its business in China improve. Revenue rose 5% to $11 billion for the January-March period, the company said Monday. That beat Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet had forecast revenue of $10.8 billion.

Adjusted for one-time items, the Atlanta beverage giant earned 68 cents per share. That also beat analysts’ forecast of 65 cents.

Pricing and mix — which includes changes in package sizes — contributed 11% to its revenue growth while concentrate sales rose 1%. The company has said it expects to see slower growth this year as prices moderate. Price and mix grew by 12% in each of the previous three quarters.

Unit case volumes jumped 10% in Asia as Covid-related shutdowns ended in China. Coke said it also grew its business in India by adding retail partners offering promotions on multi-packs.

In North America, sales were flat. Higher sales of soft drinks, juice and dairy were offset by lower sales of water, tea and coffee. Case volumes fell in Europe, where growth in some markets was offset by the suspension of business in Russia and the February earthquake in Turkey.

Operating income fell 1% as Coke invested heavily in marketing. The company announced in February that it was among the first to partner with the artificial intelligence company Open AI and the consulting firm Bain and Co. to experiment with ChatGPT and DALL-E in its marketing. Last month, Coke launched a promotion that lets customers make digital art using material from the company’s archives. Coke also launched a campaign for its Smartwater brand that targeted consumers using geolocation apps.

Coke’s shares rose 1% in premarket trading Monday.

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