Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated has begun the year with confidence after posting rising sales and earnings for the first quarter of 2006.

Coke Consolidated, the second-largest Coke bottler in the US, reported late last week a 13% leap in net income to US$815,000. Sales also rose, up 8% to US$333.2m.

The figures come ahead of the second and third quarters of 2006 when, the company said, it historically generates the lion's share of its profits.

William B. Elmore, president and COO, said: "We are very focused on revenue growth, and the expansion of the company's energy products portfolio is yielding significant improvements in revenue and gross margin. Energy products contributed 47% of the increase in revenue and 34% of the improvement in gross margin in the first quarter of 2006 compared to the first quarter of 2005."