Sales and profits for the 2017 calendar year are ahead of market expectations thanks to a combination of broad based growth, rising emerging markets profitability, operational leverage and a focus on costs.
‘Economic conditions improved, as expected, in nearly all the countries in our geographic footprint in 2017’, enthuses one of the FTSE 100’s lesser-known names in its outlook statement, adding that ‘in 2018, we expect these conditions to continue, with further economic growth and healthy inflation.’
Coca‑Cola HBC’s results showcase the benefits of it broad geographic footprint, which means it isn’t dependent on any particular market.
As stated on the company website, ‘Coca-Cola HBC operates from Ireland in the west to the Pacific coast of Russia in the east, from the Arctic Circle in the north to the tropics of Nigeria in the south.’
Annual figures from the FTSE 100 firm, which bottles and sells soft drinks in 28 countries (the bulk in Europe) with a staggeringly large addressable market of 595m consumers, reveal a 2.2% volume rise to 2,104.1m unit cases, reflecting good showings from the sparkling and stills categories alike.
Improving economic conditions helped drive a 4.9% increase in reported sales, recovery in the Russian rouble offering a tailwind, to €6,522m compared to consensus of €6,512.4m.
Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) grew 20% to €621m, ahead of consensus of €609.6m with strong operational leverage coming through driven by good cost control and despite an increase in marketing spend. The £8.14bn cap generated a bumper €425.9 million of free cash flow last year, underpinning a palate pleasing 23% hike in the full year payout to €0.54 per share.
Coca-Cola HBC comments: ‘We saw growth in the vast majority of our Developing and Emerging segment countries, while performance was mixed in the Established segment.
Our evolving sparkling drinks portfolio is proving popular with consumers and we are seeing strong growth trends from new variant and flavour launches such as Coca-Cola Lime, Coca-Cola Zero Lemon, Sprite Cucumber, Schweppes Pomegranate and eight new flavours of Fanta.’
GOOD GROWTH MOMENTUM
Zoran Bogdanovic, who took over in the hot seat in December following the death of CEO Dimitris Lois, said: ‘2017 was an exceptional year for us, and we are delighted to have delivered strong growth in volume, revenue and margin, overall demonstrating significant progress towards our 2020 objectives.'
Bogdanovic is ‘excited about the year ahead, which has a particularly strong pipeline of product innovation and commercial activity around our route to market and in-store execution. There is good momentum in the business and a determination to build on our success. We are confident that 2018 will be another successful year.’
‘We have increased our investments in revenue-generating opportunities and in particular in markets with high growth potential such as Nigeria, Russia and Romania’, says the beverages behemoth, which also expects economic conditions to improve in Nigeria in 2018.
‘Overall, we expect volume to continue to grow in all three segments, with the Emerging markets segment accelerating, as Russia and Nigeria return to volume growth.'