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Coke: More Fizz from Global Sales

Coca-Cola Co.(KO) reported third quarter earnings on Oct. 19 that bubbled up by 15%, with help from improving business in carbonated beverages and in countries around the world such as Brazil, China and Russia.

The Atlanta beverage maker's earnings per share (EPS) during the three month period ended Sept. 29 amounted to 62 cents, including an asset impairment and restructuring charge that was offset by a tax-related benefit. Third quarter 2005 EPS amounted to 54 cents, including a net reduction of 3 cents per share for items impacting comparability.

The company's carbonated beverages, which include brands such as Coca-Cola, Sprite and Fanta, grew in terms of unit case volume by 5% in the quarter - the highest growth rate since 2000.

"We continue to achieve strong growth in emerging markets, including Brazil, China and Russia, as well as in other important markets across Latin America," Coke CEO Neville Isdell said in a press release. "Europe had a strong quarter following successful World Cup promotions and generally favorable summer weather. At the same time, we have started the recovery in Japan and are addressing the softness in North America."

Coca-Cola's shares gained 1.8% on Oct. 19 to price at $44.76 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

"We expect the stock to trade up several percent today," Goldman Sachs analyst Judy Hong said in a research note issued before the start of trading Oct. 19. "The company has beaten earnings in most of the past 4-5 quarters, but the quality of this upside is high." (Goldman has received compensation for services rendered to the company within the past 12 months.)

The company had 7% unit case volume growth in its international operations, reflecting double-digit growth in key emerging markets, including Brazil, Argentina, east and central Africa, central and eastern Europe, China, Russia, Turkey and the Middle East. Western Europe delivered solid unit case volume growth as performance continued to improve. Offsetting these results were unit case volume declines in Japan, North America, and the Philippines, the company said in its press release.

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