Coca-Cola’s noncarbonated drinks — Fuze tea, Powerade and Minute Maid Light juices — continued to lift the Atlanta-based company’s fortunes in the third quarter while overall sales of sparkling beverages such as regular Coke didn’t move in North America but grew 3 percent globally.
The beverage giant reported Tuesday that volume in North America was up 2 percent in the quarter, which ended Sept. 28. Worldwide volume was up 4 percent for the quarter and 5 percent year to date.
Coca-Cola had worldwide revenue of $12.3 billion in the quarter, compared to $12.2 billion during the same period a year ago (Wall Street had expected revenue of $12.4 billion).
Net income was $2.31 billion or 50 cents per share in the third quarter of 2012, compared to income of $2.22 billion or 48 cents per share in the third quarter of 2011.
In North America, volume for Powerade grew 9 percent in the third quarter while juices were up 6 percent and teas saw double-digit increases. Water volume also grew by 4 percent.
Muhtar Kent, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, said it’s easier for the noncarbonated brands to grow because they have yet to reach the sales heights of Coca-Cola’s more established soda lineup. Regular Coke, for instance, remains the top-selling nonalcoholic drink, followed by Diet Coke.
“The base of sparkling beverages is huge,” he said in an interview.
The performance of Coca-Cola’s carbonated beverages is closely watched — despite the growth of noncarbonated drinks — because they represent the largest portion of the company’s sales. Sales of the category have been falling over the past decade as consumers switch to lower-calorie drinks and those that have less sugar.
There was good news on the sparkling side, though. In North America, Fanta volume was up 5 percent in the quarter, and Coke Zero grew 9 percent.