Coca-Cola shrugs off look-alikes

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The Independent Online

Coca-Cola is seeing no let-up in demand for the world-famous drink, despite the launch of look-alike products such as Richard Branson's Virgin Cola and Sainsbury's Classic.

The company, based in Atlanta, Georgia, said yesterday it remained on course for its target of 8-10 per cent average international unit volume growth for this year, as it announced second-quarter net profits raised from $758m to $898m.

International unit case volume grew 11 per cent, with gains of 10 per cent in Latin America, 11 per cent in the Middle and Far East and 6 per cent in the United States. The strong performance follows double-digit percentage growth in international case volumes in each of the past four quarters.

Roberto Goizueta, chairman and chief executive, said: "The most noteworthy fact of our continued growth momentum is the broad strength our business is showing in every geographical region of the globe.

"At the half-way point of 1995 these results put us solidly on track to achieve our publicly-stated long-term goal of average annual international unit volume growth of 8-10 per cent."

Worldwide shipments in gallons grew 8 per cent, making a 10 per cent rise for the year to date. In the flagship US market, case volumes expanded 6 per cent, although total North American gallonage was up only 3 per cent in the quarter.

At Coca-Cola Foods, unit volumes fell 3 per cent in the second quarter "as the division began to implement a strategy to adjust the balance between price promotions and brand-building marketing investments", the company said.

Earnings per share were 71 cents, up from 59 cents before and in line with analysts' forecasts. The second-quarter figures fed into first-half results showing net profits up from $1.28bn to $1.54bn in the six months to June. Revenues rose from $7.69bn to $8.79bn and half-year earnings per share advanced from 99 cents to $1.21.