Tuesday December 1st, 2015 7:54AM

Coca-Cola's profit slips as US soda sales flag

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- Coca-Cola says its fourth-quarter profit fell as the world's biggest beverage maker sold less soda in North America.

The maker of Sprite, Dasani and Vitaminwater water says global sales volume rose 1 percent, helped by results in some overseas markets such as Asia.

In North America, however, sales volume declined 1 percent. Noncarbonated drinks such as Powerade performed well, but that was offset by a 3 percent decline in soda. Last week, PepsiCo also said its soda volume fell in the "mid-single digits."

Although Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are tapping emerging markets for growth and sell a wide array of beverages, the two companies are struggling to stem the decline in their flagship soda business back at home.

Americans have been cutting back on soda bit by bit for years, whether it's because they worry about the sugar in regular soda or, more recently, the artificial sweeteners in diet soda. Beverage aisles have also gotten a lot more crowded, with competitors such as Monster energy drinks and Sparkling Ice waters increasingly taking up space.

Coca-Cola is looking for new ways to grow as a result. Earlier this month, the company said it was buying a stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and teaming up with the company on a machine that would let people make cold drinks at home. People would be able to insert pods into the machine to make Coke drinks at home.

In the meantime, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are looking to boost financial results by cutting costs. Coca-Cola said Tuesday it was expanding its cost-cutting program to produce another $1 billion in savings by 2016. PepsiCo also said last week that it would extend its cost-cutting program over the next five years, with a significant amount coming from job cuts.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, Coca-Cola Co. earned $1.71 billion, or 38 cents per share. Not including one-time items such as the restructuring of its bottling operations overseas, it earned 46 cents per share, in line with Wall Street expectations.

A year ago, the company earned $1.87 billion, or 41 cents per share.

Revenue fell to $11.04 billion, short of the $11.31 billion Wall Street expected.

Its stock was down 1 percent at $38.51 in premarket trading.
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