Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated has posted a healthy set of profits for its third quarter, despite dipping sales.

The US-based soft drinks company said today (6 November) that net profits for the three months to the end of September came in at US$15.4m, compared to a loss in the year-earlier quarter of $3.1m. Sales in the quarter slowed slightly, reaching $374.6m versus $381.6m in Q3 2008. Operating profits leapt to $26.3m versus $6.4m.

The quarterly profits include $0.5m of mark-to-market after-tax gains due to Coca-Cola Consolidated's fuel and aluminium hedging programmes, and $5.4m in tax benefits.

For the first nine months of 2009, net profits are running at $36.1m against $7.7m, with sales staying flat at $1.09bn compared to $1.11bn. Operating profits are at $78.1m, a rise against the $46.3m for the first nine months of last year.

The company highlighted that the results for the first nine months of last year included $8.8m of after-tax items impacting comparability, which were due to pension exit and strike settlement costs, restructuring expenses and fuel hedging gains.

"Although we are very pleased with the significant improvement in our income from operations, the comparable year-over-year results included several unusual operating expense items last year that did not occur in 2009," said Coca-Cola Consolidated's chairman and CEO, Frank Harrison.

William Elmore, president and COO, added, "We have faced many challenges since the fourth quarter of 2007. These two years presented us a difficult operating environment. Our 2008 restructuring positioned us well in a very weak economy and, through nine months of 2009, has helped us achieve a strong comparable operating performance."

To read Coca-Cola Consolidated's full statement, click here.

For the company's H1 results, click here.