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Coca-Cola Femsa Profit Rises 6.9% on Lower Venezuela Costs

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Coca-Cola Femsa SAB, the largest Coke bottler in Latin America, said fourth-quarter earnings rose 6.9 percent as a currency devaluation in Venezuela lowered operating costs.

Net income increased to 3.02 billion pesos ($250 million) from 2.83 billion pesos a year earlier, the Mexico City-based company said in a statement. Sales fell 3.6 percent to 28 billion pesos, mostly because of the revaluing of the Venezuelan bolivar.

Coca-Cola Femsa became the world’s largest franchise for Coca-Cola Co.’s namesake beverage after the U.S. company bought its North American bottling operations in October. The Mexican bottler is controlled by Monterrey-based Fomento Economico Mexicano SAB.

The quarterly profit fell short of the 3.04 billion peso average of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg, and revenue trailed the average projection of 29.1 billion pesos.

Coca-Cola Femsa fell 2.59 pesos, or 2.8 percent, to 89.47 pesos in Mexico City trading, the biggest closing decline since Jan. 18. The shares have dropped 12 percent this year.

The company’s quarterly operating income for the Latincentro unit that includes Venezuela, Colombia and Central America rose 24 percent to 1.61 billion pesos.

Operating income in Mexico fell 2.9 percent to 1.86 billion pesos because of higher marketing expense and was little changed at 1.61 billion pesos in Argentina and Brazil after costs for sweetener and plastic bottles rose, the company said.

Regional Sales

Revenue rose 6.5 percent in Mexico to 9.92 billion pesos and 13 percent to 10.1 billion pesos in Argentina and Brazil, while declining 26 percent to 7.98 billion pesos in the Latincentro unit, mainly because of the Venezuelan devaluation.

Coca-Cola Femsa reported cash and equivalents of 12.5 billion pesos and total debt of 17.4 billion pesos as of the end of December.

The company said its board proposed a dividend of 4.36 billion pesos, a 67 percent increase from a year earlier, to be paid in the second quarter. Shareholders will vote on the proposal at a March meeting, Coca-Cola Femsa said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Black in Monterrey at tblack@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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