Greek Coke bottler says 9M profit drops, but beats fcast

ATHENS Thu Nov 8, 2012 1:40am EST

ATHENS Nov 8 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) , the world's second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola Co. soft drinks, posted on Thursday a 12 percent drop in nine-month comparable profit, hurt by austerity in its debt-laden markets and higher commodity costs.

The Athens-based company with operations in 27 countries including Russia and in Nigeria, said comparable net income came in at 265 million euros ($338.01 million), compared with analysts' average 256.8 million euro forecast in a Reuters poll.

The bottler said the volume of unit cases sold dropped by 1 percent year-on-year to 1.61 billion. Sales rose 3 percent to 5.47 billion euros, compared with analysts' forecast of 5.44 billion.

The company reiterated its guidance for free cash flow generation and investments of 1.45 billion euros in the 2012-2014 period. ($1 = 0.7840 euros) (Reporting by Harry Papachristou)

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