Los Angeles — Coca-Cola’s push to diversify its drinks and spin off company-owned bottlers is bearing fruit. The company posted sales that beat analysts’ estimates in the fourth quarter, helped by its growing beverage portfolio and reformulations. Profit also topped projections. Coke’s results validate its strategy of become a marketing and drink-formulation company — rather than a bottler. The Atlanta-based company has been in flux since it began off-loading its bottling operations to independent owners. With that largely completed, investors can start to judge the results. The shares gained as much as 3.8% to $46.47 in early trading in New York. The stock has fallen 2.4% so far this year up until Thursday’s close. Coke has been successful in raising prices while maintaining consumers’ attention with new products, said Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog in a research note. "While flat unit-case volume growth remains a concern, we are encouraged by positive momentum in many internati...

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