Jones Soda Co has reported a rise in sales volumes and value for the first quarter, although EPS for the period remained flat.

The Washington-based soft drinks group said yesterday (3 May) that volume sales reached 1.7m cases (288 ounce equivalent), compared to 592,000 cases a year ago. Revenues increased 4.9% to US$9.2m compared to $8.8m a year ago.

Diluted earnings per share were $0.00 compared to $0.00 a year ago, thanks to a rise in investments in personnel and promotions.

"During the first quarter we worked hard to prepare for the full launch of our Jones Soda 12-ounce cans while at the same time increase the penetration of our bottled business at retail," said Peter van Stolk, president and CEO. "Sales of 1.1m cases of concentrate during the quarter contributed to meaningful gross margin expansion. However, this expansion was offset by additional investments in our infrastructure, primarily sales personnel and increased compliance costs to support our aggressive expansion plans coupled with several new promotional programs aimed at heightening our brand awareness."

Earnings before interest income and taxes turned a loss of $427,784, compared to an income of $44,832 in the prior year. The company reported a net income of $58,312, or $0.00 per diluted share, compared to net income of $2,542, or $0.00 in the first quarter 2006.

Van Stolk concluded: "Our brand equity and recognition continue to expand as we diversify our business, increase our marketing and advertising, and broaden our geographic reach. After several years as a leader in the premium soda category we have made tremendous progress over the past 12-months transforming our company through exciting new and unique product offerings in order to target the much larger carbonated soft drink market.

"While it is still early we are optimistic about our prospects as we believe we are just now beginning to scratch the surface in terms of our full potential. We move forward with a strong management team and an entire organisation dedicated to delivering long-term growth and profitability and increased shareholder value."