Coca-Cola profits lose fizz in Europe

Cases of Coca-Cola Coke said it had delivered "solid growth"

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Profits at soft drink giant Coca-Cola have fallen by 15% on the back of sagging sales in the US and recession-hit Europe.

The bottom line was also affected by restructuring costs at its North American operations.

Coca-Cola made $1.75bn (£1.14bn) in the first three months of the year, compared with $2.05bn in the same period in 2012.

Sales in Latin America grew 4%, with volumes outpacing Europe.

Meanwhile, sales in Eurasia and Africa jumped by 9%, but much of that was down to Coke's acquisition of Saudi Arabia bottler Aujan.

Coca-Cola's chairman and chief executive, Muhtar Kent said that the company has "once again delivered solid growth against the backdrop of a still uncertain global economy".

Coca-Cola, whose brands include Sprite, Fanta and Minute Maid, also announced a deal to divest itself of some of its distribution operations, a strategy it has been trying to pursue for some time.

Coke is keen to return to a model in which it sells a syrup to independent bottlers, who then package and distribute it.

The latest deal to return some of its North American distribution to five independent bottlers is part of this strategy.

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