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Bottler Coca-Cola HBC Trounces Profit Estimate As Demand Soars

Coca-Cola HBC’s annual profit trounced market expectations, led by higher demand for low-sugar and energy drinks, as more people dined out after Covid restrictions eased, the drinks bottler announced on Tuesday.

HBC is one of Coca-Cola’s many bottlers worldwide and holds local Coca-Cola franchises to bottle and sell drinks produced by the US beverage giant, which holds a roughly 23% stake in the Swiss-headquartered company.

“The business has delivered a very strong recovery in 2021, with all key metrics above pre-pandemic levels,” Zoran Bogdanovic, chief executive officer, said in a statement, adding that the company was mindful of inflationary pressures ahead.

Dividend Increase

The company raised its dividend payout range to 40%-50% from 35%-45%.

FTSE 100-listed Coca-Cola HBC, which operates in 29 countries across Europe and Africa, noted that comparable operating profit for the year ended 31 December jumped by nearly 24%, to €831 million ($939 million), topping a company-provided market estimate of €797.6 million.

Profit Pressures

Soft-drink makers such as Coca-Cola KO.N and PepsiCo PEP.O have flagged profit pressures for this year from a relentless rise in costs related to labour, shipping, and aluminium cans, pushing them to hike prices.

The London-listed company noted that emerging markets’ like-for-like revenue jumped by 27% on a constant-currency basis, with Nigeria, Russia and Ukraine showing strong momentum.

News by Reuters, edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more drinks stories, click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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