The release of Coca-Cola Co.'s Q2 figures led to a fall in the company's share price last week. Deutsche Bank also downgraded Coca-Cola to a "hold" from a "buy," while Sanford Bernstein cut its rating to "market perform" from "outperform."

Coke's worldwide sales measured in unit cases, a key gauge of financial health in the beverage industry, grew only 1% in the three months to 30 June, below the 3% to 4% growth widely expected.

Shares in the company fell on Friday by US$3.80 to close at US$45.17 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In his quarterly conference call on Thursday, chief executive Neville Isdell conceded that Coke had much work to do.

Isdell, who took over from Douglas Daft last month, would not comment on speculation that the company might soon lower its long-term target of 11% to 12% annual earnings per share growth. Isdell has said he plans to study the company's operations for four months before announcing any such changes.

His relative silence - he refused to take questions in the conference call - sparked concerns that Coca-Cola might still be in the middle of a difficult make-over begun in 2000.

Last week, the company announced that earnings for the three months to 30 June reached US$1.58 bln, or US$0.65 per share, compared to a profit of $1.36 billion, or US$0.55 a share, in the corresponding quarter last year.