Coca-Cola lifts forecasts as demand keeps pace with pricier sodas

Oct 25 (Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) on Tuesday joined rival PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O) in raising annual forecasts as the two top sugary soda makers benefit from multiple price increases that have so far failed to take the fizz out of demand.

Shares of Coca-Cola rose 2.3% after the soda giant also beat third-quarter revenue and profit estimates.

A near-domination of the global carbonated drinks market has encouraged Coke and PepsiCo to raise prices this year on expectations that their products are traditionally among the last to feel the pinch during an economic slowdown.

Average selling prices jumped 12% in the September quarter, the maker of Sprite and Fanta said, while unit case volumes increased 4%.

"That is much more resilient volume growth than we would normally expect, given the pricing actions (Coca-Cola and Pepsi)are taking," Bernstein analyst Callum Elliott said.

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. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Still, Coca-Cola executives on an earnings call warned that signs are emerging of inflation taking a bigger bite out of consumer spending power, especially in Europe.

Consumer demand in categories like juices and bottled water in the region is shifting toward cheaper private label brands, they said.

Chief Executive Officer James Quincey said the company was prepared for a more frugal customer by rolling out smaller capacity bottles and reducing the number of cans in multi-packs to keep prices more stable.

On an adjusted basis, Coca-Cola earned 69 cents per share on net revenue of $11.1 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of 64 cents per share on revenue of $10.52 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company forecast organic revenue to rise 14% to 15% in 2022, compared to prior expectation of 12% to 13% increase. It raised its full-year adjusted earnings per share growth forecast to 6% to 7%, from 5% to 6%.

Reporting by Uday Sampath and Granth Vanaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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