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European Coke bottler sees signs of recovery after first-half profits slide

Bottles of Coca-Cola are displayed at a supermarket of Swiss retailer Denner, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Glattbrugg, Switzerland June 26, 2020. Picture taken June 26, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files

(Reuters) - Soft drinks bottler Coca Cola HBC AG on Wednesday posted a drop in first-half profit due to coronavirus-led closures of restaurants, cinemas and other public places, while saying sales had recovered some momentum from April lows as lockdowns eased.

The company, which bottles and sells Coca-Cola Co drinks in 28 countries, said comparable operating profit fell 35.8% to 208.8 million euros ($246.49 million) for the six months ended June 26, beating company-supplied consensus of 191.7 million euros.

HBC said out-of-home volumes - which include sales at hotels, restaurants and cafes - during the initial weeks of lockdowns fell by 70%-90% but improved to declines of 25%-50% in May and June and 10%-40% in July.

The company’s out-of-home channel typically accounts for slightly over 40% of its revenue.

The Zug, Switzerland-based company said its retail sales improved since April, when performance was hit by some customer de-stocking.

HBC said it expects a negative impact for 2020 due to weaker consumer environment and tourist season, as well as the risk of a second coronavirus wave.

U.S.-based Coca-Cola Co owns a 23.2% stake in Coca-Cola HBC, according to Refinitiv data.

($1 = 0.8471 euros)

(Corrects to “beating” consensus not “missing” in second paragraph)

Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.