The Coca-Cola Co. has posted double digit rises in first-quarter sales and profits, despite ongoing challenges in its North American market.

The soft drinks giant said yesterday (17 April) that profits in the three months to 30 March were up by 14% year-on-year, on the back of a 17% climb in sales. Earnings for the three-month period hit US$1.26bn, with sales reaching $6.1bn.

While total unit case volume was up by 6%, and International operations delivered 9% volume growth, North America saw volume slip by 3%, on the back of a small 2% lift in net revenues. Operating income in North America declined 11% for the quarter, the company said, reflecting "the lower concentrate sales and higher input costs on the finished goods businesses".

Coca-Cola Co. pointed to Latin America as continuing to to deliver strong growth across the region, while key emerging markets, including China, Russia, South Africa, Nigeria, Eastern Europe and Southern Eurasia all increased at double-digit rates.

"We know what we need to do in North America and are carefully addressing the issues," said president and COO Muhtar Kent. "It will take some time to achieve the results we desire in this key market, but we expect sequential improvement as we move into the second half of the year."