Coca-Cola Enterprises has posted a lift in profits, despite slipping sales, in its third quarter.

The soft drinks bottler, which earlier this year reported a swing back into the black for its net profits in its second quarter, said today (28 October) that net profits in the three months to the end of September hit US$247m. This compares to the $214m recorded in the corresponding quarter a year earlier.

Operating profits followed suit, climbing to $464m from $430m.

Sales in the three-month period, however, dipped by 3% year-on-year, to $5.57bn.

For the first nine months of the year so far, net profits are running at $621m versus a loss in 2008 of $2.94bn. Sales are flat at $16.53bn compared to $16.57bn.

"Year to date, we have achieved strong profit growth through successful execution of brand and marketplace initiatives and efficiency and effectiveness programs," said CCE's chairman and CEO, John Brock. "Going forward, we continue to develop solid business plans for 2010 that will enable us to increase the efficiency and synergy of our system and deliver consistent, balanced growth."

The company said it now expects full-year comparable 2009 earnings per diluted common share to be in the range of $1.54 to $1.57, compared to an earlier forecast, made in July, of between $1.44 to $1.49.

To read CCE's full statement, click here.