Hansen Natural has reported a net loss of US$23.4m for 2008, due to charges related to switching distribution of its Monster Energy drink to Coca-Cola Enterprises and The Coca-Cola Co.

Hansen said yesterday (26 February) that earnings for the year were damaged by a US$118m charge related to terminating contracts with previous distributors. Operating profit for 2008 fell by 29% to $163.6m for the same reason, it said.

Hansen announced in October last year that it had signed a distribution deal with Coca-Cola Enterprises and The Coca-Cola Co for its Monster Energy drink, covering six Western Europe countries, as well as Canada and selected US states.

In December, it signed a distribution deal for Monster in Mexico with Comercializadora Eloro, a subsidiary of Grupo Jumex.

Hansen's net sales rose by 14% in 2008 to just over US$1bn, although growth slowed to a rate of 3% in the fourth quarter. The California-based group attributed its growth to Monster, which, it said, has continued to buck a slowdown in the energy drinks sector in the US.

Analysts reacted largely positively to Hansen's results.

Mark Astrachan, of Stifel Nicolaus, said in a note: "We believe that, while Hansen is not immune to macroeconomic pressures, underlying demand is strong and the company remains well-positioned to continue gaining market share in an energy drink category that continues to grow."

Monster is the second largest energy drinks brand by volume in the US, behind Red Bull.