Bottler Coca-Cola HBC keeps its fizz on robust demand

Coca-Cola HBC AG (CCH.L) raised its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday, as the soft drinks bottler benefited from resilient demand and said price rises and promotions would protect profits.

Inflation at multi-year highs has pinched household budgets and forced consumers to cut their spending, but Coca-Cola is among the packaged food makers enjoying steady demand.

Chief Executive Zoran Bogdanovic said trading in the fourth quarter and 2023 “might get harder because of consumer demand suppression,” but added the company planned to overcome it with pricing and promotional plans.

Shares in the company rose 4% to 2,007 pence in early trading.

It expects double-digit organic revenue growth at a group level in 2022, after reporting a 19.6% rise for the third quarter, excluding Russia and Ukraine.

HBC stopped production and sales of Coca-Cola products in Russia, which was one of its biggest markets, after the exodus of Western companies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine begun in February.

Chief Executive Zoran Bogdanovic told Reuters its factories in Russia had reduced operations and it had cut jobs in double digits.

HBC, one of Coca-Cola’s many bottlers worldwide, holds local Coca-Cola franchises to bottle and sell drinks produced by the U.S. beverage giant, which holds a more than 20% stake in it.

Swiss-headquartered HBC’s portfolio ranges from alcoholic beverages such as Jack Daniel’s to carbonated drinks Sprite and Monster Energy to Bambi biscuits and wafers.

HBC raised its expectations for comparable operating profit to between 860 million euros and 900 million euros ($860.43 million and $900.45 million) for 2022, compared with an earlier forecast of between 740 million euros and 820 million euros.

($1 = 0.9995 euros)