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Coca-Cola reports weaker-than-expected sales

Coca-Cola global sales volumes rose less than it expected in the fourth quarter and fell in North America, sending its shares down almost 2 percent in premarket trading.

Coke, like rival PepsiCo, has been battling declining soda sales in developed markets, especially the United States.

The company said global sales volumes rose 1 percent in the quarter. Volumes in North America fell 1 percent, while those in Europe grew just 1 percent as consumer spending remained subdued.

Coke said it expects to save $1 billion through productivity improvements by 2016 and redirect much of this into increased advertising.

(Read more: Pepsi's profit surges)

A Coca-Cola employee distributes Coca-Cola soda bottles in Mexico City.
Susana Gonzalez | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Coca-Cola employee distributes Coca-Cola soda bottles in Mexico City.

PepsiCo said last week it would look to save $1 billion annually through 2019 by closing plants and increasing automation.

Coke's quarterly revenue fell 3.6 percent to $11.04 billion, in part because of the loss in revenue from its bottling operations it sold in Brazil and the Philippines last year.

Excluding the impact of foreign exchange rates and the separation of the bottling operations, revenue rose 4 percent.

(Read more: Don't put too much stock in retail earnings)

Analysts on average had expected revenue of $11.31 billion in the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's net income fell to $1.71 billion, or 38 cents per share, in the fourth quarter ended December 31, from $1.86 billion, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 46 cents per share, in-line with the average analyst estimate.

Coke shares were down 1.8 percent at $38.21 before the bell. (Click here to track its shares following the report.)

By Reuters

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