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Coca-Cola Results Lifted By Vaccine Rollouts, Asia Demand

Coca-Cola Co trounced estimates for quarterly profit and revenue on Monday, fueled by strong demand for its soft drinks as vaccine rollouts and relaxed restrictions in Asia encouraged consumers to return to their pre-pandemic routines.

The beverage maker said volumes, a key demand indicator, returned to 2019 levels in March.

"We are encouraged by improvements in our business, especially in markets where vaccine availability is increasing and economies are opening up," chief executive officer James Quincey said in a statement.

Shares of the blue-chip Dow component rose about 1% before the opening bell.

Consumers bought more sodas in China and India offsetting weakness in the United States and Western Europe, where restrictions were more stringent and consumers preferred to snack or cook more at home.

Away-From-Home Channels

Coca-Cola heavily depends on away-from-home channels such as sporting events, restaurants and theaters to generate its sales, while rival PepsiCo Inc emerged as a pandemic winner since it sells its snacks and beverages largely in supermarkets and grocery stores.

Coca-Cola's unit case volume was flat in the first quarter, after declining for all of last year, while organic sales grew 6%.

Net revenue rose about 5% to $9.02 billion - the first increase after four quarters of declines - above the average analyst estimate of $8.63 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 55 cents per share, compared with estimates of 50 cents.

The company and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA) also announced plans to list CCBA as a publicly traded company.

News by Reuters edited by Donna Ahern Checkout. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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