UPDATE 3-Pepsi Bottling profit beats Wall Street view

Tue Feb 2, 2010 9:18pm IST

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* Q4 EPS $0.59 vs Street view $0.43

* Revenue down 0.1 pct, physical cases down 3 pct

* Leaner operations, lower costs lift revenue per case

* Shares up 0.2 percent (Adds analyst comment, share activity)

NEW YORK, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Pepsi Bottling Group Inc PBG.N, which is due to be acquired this quarter by PepsiCo Inc (PEP.N), reported a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit as productivity improvements offset a slight dip in worldwide sales.

Yet shares rose only 7 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $37.70 in morning trade as investors did not read too much into the results, which are likely the bottler's last as an independent company.

"We don't view the results as material one way or another for PBG or PEP," wrote JPMorgan analyst John Faucher in a research note. "While the numbers are less than spectacular, consensus is somewhat limited right now, and we would not expect PBG to post very strong numbers before the PEP deal closes."

The largest bottler of PepsiCo beverages such as Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew and Aquafina water said net income was $90 million, or 40 cents per share, in the 16 weeks ended on Dec. 26, compared with a year-earlier loss of $271 million, or $1.28 per share.

Excluding one-time items, such as advisory fees linked to its merger with PepsiCo and changes to Mexican tax laws, earnings were 59 cents per share, above analysts' expectations of earnings of 43 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Pepsi Bottling said that cost savings and improvements such as leaner warehouse operations, had exceeded its expectations.

The company said that net revenue per case has risen 3 percent, which helped mitigate a 3 percent drop in worldwide physical case volume.

Pepsi Bottling operates in North America, Greece, Russia, Spain and Turkey. It agreed in August to be acquired by PepsiCo, its largest shareholder and supplier.

Revenue edged down 0.1 percent to $3.81 billion, below analysts' estimates of $3.83 billion. Sales in North America, which made up 76.8 percent of the total, and Europe were flat, but fell 5.2 percent in Mexico, including the effects of currency fluctuations. (Reporting by Phil Wahba and Martinne Geller; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman)

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