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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 April, 2005, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Slow US sales hit Coke's profits
Coca Cola bottles
Coca-Cola is to revamp its marketing
Coca-Cola saw its profits fall in the three months to the end of March as drink sales slowed in North America.

Profits were $1bn (500m), down 11% on the $1.13bn it reported a year ago. Revenues rose to $5.27bn, a 4% increase on the same period last year.

Coca-Cola hopes that a slew of new drinks will boost US sales, which account for 30% of revenues.

Chairman and chief executive Neville Isdell vowed to re-invigorate marketing and innovation of its core brands.

"We are taking the actions necessary to position the company for future growth," Mr Isdell said.

They have to find a way to make it work here or they're in big trouble
Manny Goldman, beverage consultant

Although profits were down, the results were ahead of Wall Street's expectations.

Where's the fizz?

Coca-Cola has designated 2005 a year of innovation and is launching several new drinks including an energy drink called Full Throttle and a version of Diet Coke flavoured with the Splenda artificial sweetener.

Analysts say the way forward is to tap the trend away from fizzy, sugary drinks towards low-calorie, healthy drinks, such as low-sugar Orange and bottled water.

The firm said it had gained market share from rivals in the bottled water and sports drink markets and its carbonated drink sales were stable.

"Coca-Cola is in a turnaround situation," Amy Bonkoski, a Cleveland-based analyst at National City Corp., told Bloomberg. "Coke is very strong in carbonated soft drinks, but the growth is on the non-carbonated side."

"They have to find a way to make it work here or they're in big trouble," Manny Goldman, a San Francisco-based beverage consultant, said.

However, there was some good news for the company.

On Monday it reported that a probe by the US financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Justice Department into fraud and wrongdoing at the company had been resolved without fines.

Separately, the company said it had made a settlement with the SEC over its business conduct in Japan.

Later on Tuesday, Coca-Cola will be holding its annual shareholder meeting.

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