Coca-Cola fizzles as restructuring weighs on earnings

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Coca-Cola’s sales dropped 11 per cent in the first quarter, as the world’s largest maker of fizzy drinks tries to overhaul its business.

The company reported adjusted earnings of 43 cents a share on $9.1bn in revenues in the first three months of the year — down from $10.3bn a year ago. Wall Street analysts had predicted earnings of 44 cents a share on $8.9bn in sales. Coca-Cola said structural changes accounted for 10 per cent of its slide in revenues.

Shares were up 0.3 per cent in pre-market trading.

The Atlanta-based company has been restructuring its business, targeting $3bn in annual savings by 2019. Looking to appeal to a more health-conscious consumer, Coke has been selling off chunks of its bottling divisions to diversify away from soft drinks.

A new chief executive, James Quincey, will take over in May as Muhtar Kent steps down. Mr Kent said the first quarter results were “in line with our plan” and “adversely impacted” by seasonalities. “We continue to execute against the long-term strategic transformation plan for the company,” he said.

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