Coca Cola vows to streamline operations in an effort to slash costs faster.
Coca Cola vows to streamline operations in an effort to slash costs faster. David Stuart

Coca Cola shares wet as soft drinks market loses fizz

SHARES in Coca Cola plunged in New York trading after the world's largest beverage company reported disappointing fizzy drink sales as consumers look for healthier options.

Coca Cola said net income for the third quarter ended September fell to $2.1 billion, or 48 cents a share, from $2.4 billion, or 54 cents a share, a year earlier.

While earnings per share came in line with analyst expectations, Coke said it no longer expects to meet its long-term target of high-single-digit growth.

Coca Cola also unveiled a new cost-cutting plan, which it said will save company $3 billion per year by 2019, stepping up efforts to slash costs from a previous target of $1 billion.

"We have taken a hard look at our progress to date and realise that while the strategies we laid out at the beginning of the year are on the right track, the scope and pace of our actions must increase," chief executive Muhtar Kent added.

Coca-Cola said global beverage volume rose 1 per cent, as an increase in non-carbonated drinks lifted fizzy drink volume. In its flagship North American market, the company said soda and non-carbonated drinks each fell by 1 per cent. Overall revenue was flat at $11.97 billion.

Consumers are increasingly ditching sugary drinks in favour of healthier options. Diet drinks have also come under scrutiny with medical research linking artificial sweeteners with a rise in obesity.

In an effort to capture health-conscious customers, Coca Cola recently launched a new stevia-based soft drink marketed as mid-calorie alternative containing naturally occurring sugar.