Food & Beverage

Coke turnaround strategy beginning to bear fruit: CEO

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Coca-Cola has a lot of work to do to turn around its business, but positive first quarter results signal the company is on the right track, Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent said Friday.

"This is not about the single quarter. Yes, we were pleased with our results, but it's a work in progress," Kent told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "But yes, the strategy of what we're trying to do is beginning to bear fruit, and we'll just continue relentlessly in executing that strategy of more focus on our revenues and productivity."

The company's productivity program will allow it to dial up its marketing, Kent said, after which Coca-Cola would "rewire" its organization, focus on its core business and speed up its refranchising efforts.

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Coca-Cola on Wednesday reported a rise in revenue for the first time in nine quarters, helped by a 6 percent rise in revenue from North America, its biggest market.

The world's largest beverage company and maker of the iconic Coca-Cola brand has felt the pain of 10 straight years of decline in the soft drink segment as consumers shift to healthier options.

Kent said it was important not just to consider volume growth, but value, noting that the nonalcoholic beverage segment is expected to grow by $300 billion between 2015 and 2020. "Sparkling beverages" are forecast to account for $100 billion of that.

"What we see here is a tremendous growth opportunity in revenue and in value," he said. "That's what we're seeing in North America. Again, last quarter we had very good price mix and we had a very good growth number for sparkling beverages in our North American business."

The right type and quantity of marketing is what generates that value creation, he said.

"It shouldn't just be a volume-centric discussion. It should be a holistic discussion."

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In developed markets, Coke is focused on price mix and revenue generation, while it has concentrated on volume growth in emerging markets, where it is still introducing its product to shoppers, said Kathy Waller, chief financial officer.

"I think investors are getting that," she told "Squawk on the Street."

Coca-Cola stock has been trailing that of its rival PepsiCo in the last year. During that period, Coke stock was flat while Pepsi stock rose 12 percent.

—Reuters contributed to this story.