Beverage maker Cott reports dip in revenue, margin

Wed May 1, 2013 12:43pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Canadian soft drink maker Cott Corp (BCB.TO) (COT.N) reported a fall in its first-quarter revenue and margins as it exited some of its businesses in North America and lost market share, sending its shares down as much as 11 percent.

The company, which was also hit by what it called a general market decline in the North American carbonated soft drink market, said revenue fell 4 percent to $505.4 million in the quarter ended March.

Filled beverage case volumes fell 5 percent to 193 million cases.

Gross margin for the company, which owns brands such as Red Rain and Vess, fell to 11.2 percent from 12.1 percent as fixed costs rose as a percentage of total sales.

"For several previous quarters, Cott has been able to offset weaker-than-anticipated topline with strong gross margin expansion, which was not the case this quarter," JP Morgan analyst John Faucher said in a note to clients.

Cott's shares have risen 35 percent this year, while the broader S&P/TSE Canadian Consumer Staples Index .GSPTTCS has risen 8 percent during the same period.

The beverage maker, which had a profit of $5.9 million in the first quarter of last year, broke even this year.

Cott produces beverages for retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), as a part of its private label business.

The company also operates beverage bottling plants in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.

Its top 10 customers accounted for more than half of its 2012 revenue with Wal-Mart contributing more than 10 percent.

Cott shares were trading down at C$9.91 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The U.S.-listed shares also fell 11 percent.

(Reporting by Krithika Krishnamurthy in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)

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