Greek soft drinks group, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (HBC), posted a net loss of €38.7m for the first quarter of 2002, down from the first quarter net loss of €45.6m in 2001. The reduced net loss was widely attributed to lower-than- expected interest expenses and negative minority interests.

However, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were above market forecasts. EBITDA in the first quarter rose by 26% to €86.6m from €68.8 in the corresponding period last year. The average rise predicted by analysts was around 16% to €80m.
As a result of the positive EBITDA performance, the company has raised its EBITDA growth forecast for the full year to 14%-16% against its previous target of 13%-15%.
The company has also said it will apply for a listing of the company's shares on the New York Stock Exchange. "The New York listing makes sense as all our peer bottlers are there, which will make comparability much easier," said Coca-Cola HBC's managing director Irial Finan.

Emerging markets continued to drive growth for the company, with first-quarter EBITDA from this area of the business rising by 34% from €18.9m to €25.3m. Nigeria, in particular, continued to turn in strong profitable growth, the company said, while EBITDA was also boosted by 18% volume growth in Russia.
EBITDA from established markets was up by 14% from €49.8m to €57.3m, principally as a result of strong volume growth. Markets such as Ireland and Italy recorded particularly strong volume gains, the company said. Coca-Cola HBC also recorded positive results from developing markets, with this segment posting EBITDA of €4.0m, against €100,000 in the corresponding period last year.