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Coke improves Q4 earnings per share by 79 percent

BY DSN STAFF

ATLANTA The Coca-Cola Co. Wednesday reported that fourth-quarter earnings increased 79 percent compared with the prior year on a reported basis.

The company reported a per share increase of 52 cents, and 58 cents after considering items impacting comparability, an increase of 12 percent.

Earnings per share for the quarter included a net charge of 6 cents per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2006 were 29 cents and included a net charge of 23 cents per share primarily related to a non-cash impairment charge at Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. an equity investee.

Earnings per share for the year were $2.57, an increase of 19 percent compared with the prior year on a reported basis, and $2.70 after considering items impacting comparability, an increase of 14 percent. Earnings per share for the year included a net charge of 13 cents per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Full year 2006 earnings per share were $2.16 and included a net charge of 21 cents per share primarily related to a non-cash impairment charge at CCE.

“This has been a year of significant accomplishment,” said Neville Isdell, Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive officer. “We have delivered strong business results and increased value to our shareowners by expanding our consumer appeal across our beverage brands and connecting in very meaningful ways with the communities we serve. By successfully executing our clearly defined strategies with our bottling partners, we delivered 6 percent unit case volume growth for the year and four consecutive quarters of double-digit earnings per share growth.

“Importantly, this growth was balanced across our geographies and portfolio of brands. On a worldwide basis, sparkling beverage volume increased a solid 4 percent, and still beverages increased 12 percent. We remain focused on driving sustainable long-term growth and value for our shareowners, while delivering against our stakeholder needs each day. With our strategies in place, our expanded brand portfolio and our geographic balance, we are well prepared to respond to opportunities and challenges ahead and anticipate another good year in 2008.”

President and chief operating officer Muhtar Kent added, “Clearly, our strategies are right and our execution is working, as 2007 was a successful year for The Coca-Cola Co. As evident from our results, we consistently delivered on our promise of executing against our growth agenda. Our international business, led by the emerging markets, continues to drive our overall growth, while stabilizing key markets like Japan , the Philippines and North America underscores our ability to re-energize major markets.”

“I am pleased with the progress we made against our 2007 priorities,” Kent said. “We are now better positioned to capture the significant growth opportunities. As we look to 2008, the foundation is in place to deliver another successful year of balanced geographic and brand growth for The Coca-Cola Co” 

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Folgers leads increase in coffee prices

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK Procter & Gamble hiked the list prices of some of its well-known Folgers coffees, including Folgers Instant, by 6 percent, effective immediately, a company spokesman said Monday. Other coffee companies are expected to follow suit within a few days.

The price hike reflects the recent rally in green arabica and robusta beans on the futures markets, P&G spokesman Bryan Brown said.

Arabica beans are typically used to make brewed coffee. Robusta is either processed into instant coffee or blended into a roasted mix typically priced less than 100 percent arabica.

The benchmark arabica May futures contract KCK8 trading on ICE Futures U.S. closed up 0.70 cents at $1.505 per pound Monday, after touching a 10-year high for the second position at $1.512 in early trade Monday.

May robusta futures LKDK8 trading on the London International Financial Futures Exchange closed down $14 at $2,238 per ton after hitting a 10.5-year high of $2,291.

While Maryland Club will be included in the Folgers Ground increase, other brands including Millstone Gourmet, Dunkin’ Donuts retail coffee and Folgers Singles will not be affected, according to the company.

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M&Ms debuts live-action motion capture Green M&M

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK M&Ms and advertising company BBDO, New York, have developed a new technology that will allow an actress wearing a motion capture suit to be interviewed live as an animated character.

The Green M&M will make her debut Wednesday, with a Valentine’s Day tie-in for the product, appearing on 25 national and local talk shows, interacting with and being interviewed by hosts in a unique combination of technology and media. The satellite media tour, in which Green appears with presenters alongside Chris Harrison, host of The Bachelor, will begin in the morning and run until noon. The holiday push also will include bags of all-green M&Ms emphasizing the candy maker’s claims of the color’s long-time rumors of being an aphrodisiac, and a Web site.

“The technology can put the character in any live situation, walking the red carpet, into the pit of a NASCAR race,” says Mars North America spokesman Ryan Bowling. “We don’t have to worry about free rendering the character; this technology allows us to take advantage of short lead opportunities as well as putting the character in environments we couldn’t before.”

Bringing the Green M&M to life are a proprietary, Mars-owned motion control system, voice recognition and Bluetooth technologies. Mars’ icon—an actress wearing a motion capture suit and a headset—will work alongside an animator manipulating the character’s facial expressions with a joystick. That footage will at some point be joined via satellite with the main feed and broadcast as a whole. 

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