It’s been a big week for soft drinks businesses, including results from both The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo. Coca-Cola reported that operating profits in Europe fell by 8% in the third quarter.
The millions spent sponsoring the London Olympics were cited as a cause of the decline in profitability, which contributed to a <1% drop in the shares to $37.7. PepsiCo’s shares fared little better, falling a fraction to $70.1 after it reported a 5.3% dip in sales to $16.7bn.
Growing by 33%, Coca-Cola shares have outperformed PepsiCo’s 12% by some margin over the past two years. They’ve done so by winning the market share battle in the US. By contrast, Pepsi has been winning market share from Coca-Cola in the UK to the benefit of Britvic, which reported 2.1% carbonates growth in the three months to 30 September against some tough comparisons. However, its shares dropped a fraction to 357.4p by Thursday lunchtime as total sales fell by 2.6% - largely as a result of the costly Fruit Shoot recall.
Danone and Nestlé also reported weak results this week. Danone shares dropped 3% to €47.3 after it reported like-for-like Q3 sales growth of 5%. “We expected a subdued reporting we got a quite disappointing one,” said Bernstein analyst Andrew Wood.
His take on Nestlé’s 6.1% sales growth for the first nine months of the year - a slowdown on the 6.6% growth reported for the first half - was similar. “We expected a slowdown in growth, but we did not expect sales to slow so much,” he said. Shares in the Swiss food giant fell 2% to 60.9 CHF.
The other big theme in this week’s City News was China. Coca-Cola and Nestlé both suffered from weaker Asian demand. And Diageo said Asia Pacific sales rose by just 2% in the three months to 30 September - its shares were down 1% by Thursday lunchtime at £17.47.
SABMiller shares were also down, by almost 2%, on Thursday lunchtime at £26.09 after it reported a slowdown in Latin American sales.
Meanwhile, Booker bucked the downward trend. Shares in the wholesaler shot up 5% on Thursday morning to hit the £1 mark after it posted a bumper 13.3% increase in pre-tax profits to £51m for the 24 weeks to 14 September.