Picture: REUTERS/JACKY NAEGELEN
Picture: REUTERS/JACKY NAEGELEN

London — Soft drink bottler Coca-Cola HBC reported higher-than-expected first-half sales on Thursday, helped by price increases, sending its shares up more than 8% to all-time highs.

The company, which was the top gainer on London’s FTSE 100 index, said operating profit jumped by nearly 21% to €266.4m ($312.5m) in the first half of the year on sales revenue up 5.6% to €3.21bn.

Excluding currency fluctuations, sales rose 5.7%, beating expectations for growth of 5%, according to several analysts.

The company, which bottles and sells Coca-Cola drinks in more than two dozen countries, sold 1.4% more drinks, but the bulk of the sales growth came from price increases and selling a greater proportion of more expensive drinks. The company has raised prices in recent months in countries such as Russia and Nigeria.

UBS analysts said the implied growth for the second quarter was 6.1%, which was 1.2 percentage points more than consensus. They also said the company’s updated guidance implied mid-single-digit upgrades to consensus estimates for the year.

"We are on track for broad-based revenue and margin growth for the full year with the organisation energised by the progress we are making towards our 2020 financial targets," CEO Dimitris Lois said in a statement.

The company added that "good volume trends will continue in the second half" with an acceleration in developing markets. At the same time, its price/mix growth should slow in emerging markets and developing markets.

The company’s shares were up 8.4% to £25.72 at 9.34am GMT on Thursday. They had earlier risen to £26.06, their highest level of the company’s four-year tenure on the London Stock Exchange.

Reuters

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