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Coca-Cola posted better-than-expected sales in the fourth quarter, as strong demand in developed markets, particularly North America, helped mitigate some of the strength of the dollar hurting overseas revenue.

Net revenue dropped 6 per cent to $9.4bn in the final three months of the year, compared with analysts’ expectations for an 8.6 per cent decline to $9.15bn. Currency headwinds took 2 percentage points off growth, while divestitures and other extraordinary items took 10 percentage points off growth. Organic revenues increased 6 per cent, the company said. In North America, net revenue grew 8 per cent. Earnings dropped 55 per cent to 13 cents a share, whereas adjusted EPS was in line with analysts expectations of 37 cents a share.

The world’s largest maker of fizzy drinks has been making sweeping changes at its operations, selling of large portions of its bottling businesses across the globe having spent years revamping them to improve efficiency. Once complete the company will be focused on innovating around new products, as global consumers increasingly demand healthier fayre and marketing its brand.

The revamping of its bottling operations has been an important project for chairman and chief executive Muhtar Kent, who will this year be replaced by president and chief operating officer James Quincey. Mr Kent will remain as chairman.

Mr Kent said: “Strong price/mix stemming from our continued focus on driving revenue and solid performance in our developed markets helped offset persistent macroeconomic pressures in our emerging and developing markets.”

For the fiscal year started in January, Coca-Cola forecast about 3 per cent growth in organic revenues and 7 – 8 per cent growth in comparable currency-neutral pre-tax income.

Shares were down 0.5 per cent at $41.81 in pre-market trading.

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