Coca-Cola's growth rates to increase this year, says research firm

A market research firm predicts that Atlanta-based Coca-Cola's global sales volume will accelerate this year. Coca-Cola's volume will grow 4 percent in the first quarter, and then jump by as much as 6 percent in the second and third quarters of this year, according to Connecticut-based Consumer Edge Research. That would be a dramatic speed-up from growth rates posted in several quarters last year.

Consumer Edge Research predicted that Coca-Cola will not raise prices aggressively this year, in response to consumers who are "just beginning to emerge from the recession." Meanwhile, investors will be watching for any signs of disruption in Coca-Cola's takeover of bottling operations in North America -- a transaction expected to close later this year. "Our forecasts assume minimal disruption," Consumer Edge Research said.

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