Coca-Cola Co. believes it is strongly placed for a good 2004. The company says the growing demands for key brands, aggressive cost controls, a healthier bottling system and a weak US dollar have combined to give Coke a bright future.

In a meeting with analysts and investors on Friday, Coca-Cola also said it intends to shift its focus away from volumes and will diversify its mix of packages at different price points.

The Wall Street Journal Europe reports today that, in North America, 76% of Coca-Cola's volume is sold through cans and two-litre bottles. "We don't want that to be the case going forward,"  Steve Heyer, Coca-Cola's president and chief operating officer, told the newspaper. Consequently, some Coca-Cola bottlers have begun selling multipacks of 12-ounce (360 millilitre), re-sealable plastic bottles in the hope that consumers will be willing to pay more for than traditional can 12-packs.

The strategy change is based on the overall slowing-down of soft-drink sales in some of its largest markets.

The company reaffirmed its long-term goal of 11% to 12% growth in earnings per share and said it expects operating income to grow annually by 10%. Coke also said it would increase its share repurchases in 2004 to US$2 billion from about $1.5 billion this year.