Coca-Cola sales fall on strong dollar, weak Europe demand

Reuters with CNBC.com
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Coca-Cola's sales fell for the fourth straight quarter as demand for its fizzy drinks declined in Europe and a strong dollar eroded the value of sales in markets outside the United States, including Latin America.

Shares of the maker of Sprite soda and Minute Maid juices fell about 1.5 percent in premarket trading on Wednesday.

Coke and rival PepsiCo have been hurt as consumers increasingly turn health-conscious, cutting back on fizzy drinks and turning to teas, fruit juices and smoothies.

The rise in the dollar has also hit the companies, which have a sizable presence in markets outside the United States, including China, Europe, and Brazil.

"Eurasia and Africa were a bit disappointing; Latin America was a bit disappointing, particularly Brazil," Mark Swartzberg, Stifel Nicolaus beverage analyst, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday. "So if you say 'emerging markets' and you say 'Coke,' you saw a little bit of a disappointing performance there."

The average value of the dollar rose 2.6 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier. The U.S. currency had risen 18 percent in the first three months of 2015.

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This week, PepsiCo also reported a drop in quarterly sales, but strong demand for its snacks in North America helped the company post a better-than-expected profit.

"We need to see what's happening in North America, which grew revenue about 5 percent," Swartzberg said. "We need that kind of turnaround to be evident in other markets."

Coke's sales in Europe, its third biggest market, declined 1 percent in the quarter ended April 1, while a strong dollar and weak demand in Brazil pulled down Latin America sales by 12.2 percent.

The net income attributable to the company's shareholders fell 4.5 percent to $1.48 billion, or 34 cents per share.

Excluding items, Coke earned 45 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 44 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net operating revenue fell 4 percent to $10.33 billion, slightly higher than estimates of $10.28 billion. Excluding the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and currency movements, total revenue rose 2 percent.

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Coke, which has a target of $3 billion annual cost savings by 2019, said selling, general and administrative expenses declined nearly 8 percent.

Net operating revenue fell 4 percent to $10.28 billion.

However, total organic revenue, which excludes the impact of acquisitions, divestitures and currency movements, rose 2 percent.

Coke maintained its 2016 forecast of 4-5 percent growth in organic revenue and 4-6 percent growth in earnings per share on a constant-currency basis.

CNBC contributed to this report.