Coca-Cola Co has recorded an increase in its net revenue for the quarter that ended on April 2, beating estimates for its quarterly results as its sales in Asia picked up following the reopening of stores and restaurants, but the beverage maker warned of a rocky road ahead due to growing COVID-19 cases in some markets.
The beverage maker said that volumes, which are a key demand indicator, returned to 2019 levels in March as accelerated vaccinations paved the way for the reopening of economies.
"Whilst we've got back above the line of flotation in March, there's no guarantee there won't be some extra degree of lockdowns in May or September or December that then puts pressure back on the business," Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey told analysts.
In the past few weeks, Latin America and Africa have slowed down vaccine distribution and India, which was one of the best performing regions in the first quarter, is seeing a surge in cases and has put in place localised lockdowns.
"The reality is that there are more cases now than there were a while ago. We still feel very confident...but there's a lot of managing left to do," Quincey said.
Net revenue rose by approximately 5% to $9.02 billion during the quarter that ended on April 2 - the first increase after four quarters of declines - beating the average analyst estimate of $8.63 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
On an adjusted basis, Coca-Cola earned 55 cents per share, which was five cents more than estimates.
Coca-Cola is now seeking a place in more pantries through single-serve multi-packs, smaller packaging, refills and returnable glass bottles.
"There's been a lot of underlying progress and Coke's brand is definitely strong enough to carry the group to a recovery," Hargreaves Lansdow William Ryder said.
African Bottling Operations Listing Plans
Coca-Cola has also separately announced plans to list its African bottling operations, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa (CCBA), as a publicly traded company. As part of the IPO, Coca-Cola will sell a portion of its 66.5% stake in CCBA.