UPDATE 1-Greek Coke bottler profit crimped by austerity, costs

Thu Nov 8, 2012 2:03am EST

* 9M profit down 12 pct y/y, above forecasts

* Debt-laden Greece, Italy, Ireland, weigh on results

* Also hit by adverse currency movements (Adds CEO comment)

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

The company's comparable net income of 265 million euros ($338.01 million) beat analysts' average expectations of 256.8 million.

EU-IMF austerity measures have caused sales volumes to drop in Greece and Ireland as well as Italy, where the government is also curbing spending to cope with higher borrowing costs.

The bottler, with operations in countries including Russia and Nigeria, 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 an analysts' average forecast of 5.44 billion.

"Notwithstanding the encouraging results of the third quarter, we see the overall macroeconomic volatility and input cost pressures persisting," the company's chief executive Dimitris Lois said in a statement.

"The environment in which we operate remains very challenging, particularly across our established markets," he added.

Athens-based CCH announced last month it will move to Switzerland from Greece and that it will switch its primary listing to London from Athens. ($1 = 0.7840 euros) (Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by David Cowell)

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