Dr Pepper Snapple has reported net sales down 3% for the first quarter of 2009, largely due to the loss of distribution deals for Hansen Natural's Monster Energy drink, but raised earnings guidance for its full-year.

Net sales fell to US$1.26bn, down from $1.29bn in the first three months of 2008, Dr Pepper Snapple said late last week.

Exlcuding the loss of distribution contracts for Monster, which passed to Coca-Cola Enterprises during the quarter, net sales rose by 4%, said Dr Pepper Snapple.

Net profits rose by 39% for the quarter to $132m, partially boosted by one-off payments from Hansen Natural to end the Monster distribution contracts.

The firm raised its earnings guidance for 2009 by $0.11 per share, to a range of $1.7 to $1.78, based on expected lower input costs, more favourable currency rates, cost savings and an improving market.

Net sales for the year are still expected to fall by between 2% and 4%, added the group, but it sounded a note of optimism on the US soft drinks market.

President and CEO Larry Young said: ""While the US economy remains weak, consumer sentiment appears to be improving and we're continuing to see a shift in purchase habits toward CSDs and other value offerings.

"Our portfolio of CSDs and value juices performed extremely well in the quarter, led by strong gains in Crush distribution and Hawaiian Punch and solid Dr Pepper and Core 4 growth.

"Pressure remains at the premium end of the portfolio, especially with Snapple. We're confident, however, that recent product and package changes coupled with strong marketing programmes will return this brand to growth toward the end of this year."