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.
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.
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.