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Indian operations contribute to Coca Cola Q2 2003 growth

ATLANTA: The Coca-Cola Company reported second quarter (2Q 2003) earnings per share of $0.55, a 12 percent increase from the prior year second quarter earnings of $0.49 per share. The current quarter results include a reduction of $0.02 per share related to the previously announced streamlining initiatives. The worldwide unit case volume grew five per cent in the second quarter.

A press release says that strong results during the first six months were driven by growth in Australia, the Philippines, India and Thailand.

A medianet press release says that the results in the quarter were driven by two per cent carbonated soft drink growth and nearly 20 per cent growth in noncarbonated beverages. Year-to-date unit case growth reflects an increase of five per cent in international operations and three per cent in North America.

Coca Cola chairman and CEO Doug Daft was quoted as saying: "Given our emphasis on profitable growth and cash flow generation throughout our business, we are encouraged by the results we have generated in the current global operating environment." The cash from operations for the first six months was $2.1 billion; compared to $2.2 billion in the prior year period. However, the release says that the company expects strong cash flows to continue in the future.

The release says that the company continues to concentrate on maximising value for customers and the entire Coca-Cola system based on a balanced approach to volume and pricing through the execution of brand, package and channel strategies on a country-by-country basis.

Highlights of Coca Cola's Asian operations:

The unit case volume increased four per cent for the second quarter of 2003, cycling 14 per cent growth in the prior year second quarter. For the first six months, unit case volume increased six per cent, cycling 12 percent growth during the prior year period.

The release says that strong results during the first six months were driven by growth in Australia, the Philippines, India and Thailand. Core carbonated soft drinks continued to drive growth across Asia, particularly in single-serve packages, along with strong performance of local brands such as Thums Up, Qoo and Kinley.

Growth trends in the region during the second quarter were affected by the SARS virus in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. The company estimates that SARS reduced the region?s unit case growth rate by approximately three percentage points during the quarter.

However, these trends did not significantly impact the profit for the group due to measures taken early in the quarter to redirect resources and postpone investments until consumer confidence returned.

In China, unit case volume declined approximately two percent during the second quarter, and increased nine percent during the first six months of the year. The company has seen encouraging signs that the worst impact on its business from the SARS virus is now over.

Further, the release states that the company remains focused on efficiency drivers and supply chain management projects that will generate additional resources for investments in growth-driving and brand-building initiatives.

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