In its third quarter Coca-Cola Enterprises saw its net income leap from US$11m a year earlier to US$191m. The largest bottler of Coca-Cola products also raised its earnings projection for the full year, anticipating continued volume growth and pricing improvement.

Third-quarter EBITDA totalled US$704m, up 18% on the same period a year before.

"Our third-quarter results clearly demonstrate that the improving trends in our financial and operating performance are gaining momentum," said Lowry F. Kline, chairman and chief executive officer.

"Strong sales performance, tight operating expense controls and favourable cost trends have enabled us to achieve solid operating margin expansion this year. By effectively managing all aspects of our business, we're strengthening our ability to generate consistent, long-term growth and improved returns.

"A key element in our ability to maintain this operating momentum is price improvement in North America, and we are encouraged by the environment for rate improvement that we've seen in recent weeks," Mr. Kline said.

The benefit of new brands and extensions, such as Vanilla Coke, diet Coke with Lemon, and Minute Maid juice drinks were considerable. Physical case bottle and can volume increased 5% on a comparable basis for the quarter.

North American volume increased 5.5% and volume in Europe increased 3.5%. Since its June introduction, the company has sold more than 24 million physical cases of Vanilla Coke in North America.

"Our new brands and brand extensions, highlighted by the performance of Vanilla Coke, are strengthening our appeal with a broader range of consumers than ever before," said John R. Alm, president and chief operating officer. "In every non-alcoholic beverage category - Coca-Cola trademark brands, flavours, and water - we are generating solid growth through a combination of powerful brands, excellent local marketing efforts and strong store-by-store execution.

The company said it expected North American volume growth for full year 2002 to be more than 3%, while 2002 volume growth in Europe will be approximately 4%, with consolidated volume up in a range of 3% to 4%.

The company expects full-year 2002 EBITDA in the previously announced range of $2.35 billion to $2.4 billion, including the impact of currency translations. Full-year 2002 earnings per diluted common share are now forecast in a range of $1.00 to $1.03.