UPDATE 4-Pepsi Bottling profit tops view; outlook light

Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:11am EST

* Q4 adjusted EPS 30 cts tops Wall St view of 25 cts

* Q4 volume down 7 pct; North America volume down 7 pct

* Sees '09 shr $2.15 to $2.25 after forex hit

* Shares up 1.5 pct (Adds stock activity, analyst comment, byline)

By Martinne Geller

NEW YORK, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Pepsi Bottling Group Inc PBG.N reported better-than-expected quarterly results on Tuesday, helped by productivity gains.

The largest bottler of PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N) drinks also forecast full-year earnings below analysts' estimates, but the outlook was not as bad as some investors had feared.

Pepsi Bottling said it expected 2009 earnings of $2.15 to $2.25 per share, excluding restructuring charges but including a hit of 18 cents per share from currency exchange rates.

Analysts on average were expecting 2009 profit of $2.27 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

"The underlying growth rate appears better than expected," JPMorgan analyst John Faucher wrote in a research note, adding that the full-year forecast was not a major surprise given the worldwide economic slowdown.

Pepsi Bottling said it expected revenue to grow at a low single-digit percentage rate, excluding currency fluctuations, from $13.8 billion in 2008. Wall Street has forecast $13.87 billion.

Pepsi Bottling, which operates in North America, Greece, Russia, Spain and Turkey, expects 2009 to be "another challenging year," Chief Executive Eric Foss said in a statement.

The company posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $271 million, or $1.28 per share, compared with a year-earlier net profit of $81 million, or 35 cents per share.

Excluding restructuring and asset impairment charges, the bottler earned 30 cents per share. Analysts on average were expecting 25 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Net revenue fell to $3.81 billion from $4.04 billion.

Total volume fell 7 percent as the global economic slowdown depressed consumer spending. Volume fell 7 percent in North America and 6 percent in Europe.

The stronger U.S. dollar reduced revenue by 4 percentage points and operating income by 2 points, the company said. At the same time, price increases led to a 5 percent rise in revenue per case in the United States and Canada, and a 2 percent increase worldwide.

The company said in November that it planned to eliminate about 3,150 jobs to trim costs as cash-strapped consumers cut back on impulse purchases of beverages and the strengthening U.S. dollar reduces the value of overseas sales.

Pepsi Bottling shares were up 30 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $21.01 on the New York Stock Exchange. At Monday's close, they had fallen about 40 percent over the last year, compared with a 20 percent decline for the Standard & Poor's 1500 Beverages Industry Index .15GSPBVGS. (Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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