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Coca-Cola expects coronavirus to cut into short-term sales, profit

Coca-Cola, the Atlanta-based beverage giant, so far predicts only relatively short-term financial impact from the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
Coca-Cola, the Atlanta-based beverage giant, so far predicts only relatively short-term financial impact from the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Coca-Cola said Friday it expects the coronavirus outbreak to cut into short-term sales and profits, and that fallout from the virus continues to limit its beverage production in China.

But the Atlanta-based drink giant added it still expects to meet its financial projections for the full year, even as it pointed out the situation continues to evolve.

Attempts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including quarantines for millions of people in China, have raised questions about ramifications to economies and business profits around the world.

In advance of a meeting with analysts, Coke reported it expects the outbreak to have a 2 to 3 percentage point impact on how many unit cases it sells globally in the first three months of the year. It also predicted a 1 to 2 percentage point impact to overall organic revenue and a 1 to 2 cent impact to earnings per share for that period.

Its full-year projections, though, remain unchanged. Coke has said it expects its comparable earnings per share for 2020 to rise 7% to about $2.25.

China, where the virus outbreak began, is Coke’s third-largest market by drink volume. The nation accounts for 10% of Coke’s global volume, though it generates a lower share of revenue and profits.

Coke system manufacturing plants have only partially rebounded from earlier limits. Coke spokesman Scott Leith wrote in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that 80% of its China plants "are back in operation, operating at 50% capacity."