UPDATE 2-Dr Pepper Snapple 1st-quarter profit tops estimates

Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:59am EDT

* 1st-qtr earnings 53 cts/shr tops Wall St view 46 cts/shr

* Stands by 2013 forecast

* Shares rise 2.5 percent

April 24 (Reuters) - Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday, helped by productivity improvements and the launch of its 10-calorie sodas, sending its shares up in morning trading.

The No. 3 U.S. soft-drink maker competes with much larger companies Coca-Cola Co and PepsiCo Inc with a broad array of sodas such as Canada Dry, 7UP, Dr Pepper and Sunkist. While overall soda sales in the United States have been declining for years, flavored sodas sometimes outperform cola due to their uniqueness.

The company also stood by its full-year forecast, which calls for earnings of $3.04 to $3.12 per share on sales growth of 3 percent.

In the first quarter, net income was $106 million, or 51 cents per share, up from $102 million, or 48 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding a loss related to commodity accounting, earnings were 53 cents per share, topping analysts' average estimate of 46 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"Despite continued category headwinds, a fragile U.S. consumer and abnormally cold weather across the Northeast and Midwest, our business results remained solid for the quarter," said Chief Executive Larry Young.

Net sales rose 1 percent to $1.38 billion, after the company sold more higher-priced drinks. Sales by volume fell 2 percent.

Dr Pepper Snapple shares were up 2.2 percent, or $1.07, at $48.86 on the New York Stock Exchange.