Recently-launched mid-calorie colas may be either "slow builds or something closer to dead on arrival," according to a beverage analyst. In a research note, Legg Mason analyst Mark Swartzberg said the findings were based on feedback from 51 US retailers who had given over shelf space to Coca-Cola's C2 and PepsiCo.'s Pepsi Edge colas.

"No one with whom we spoke says the products are selling briskly, with responses evenly split between selling 'not at all' and 'a little'," Swartzberg said.

"Our findings are hardly conclusive," Swartzberg warned, "as the products have only been available nationally since mid-June. However, the Coke system especially has placed a heavy emphasis on the products (described as the "strongest launch support since Diet Coke" by Coca-Cola Enterprises), and C2 is taking up a lot of space, including high-margin cold channel space previously dedicated to brand Coca-Cola, a brand that turns rapidly."

"Correspondingly, CCE has the greatest exposure to a failed or successful mid-calorie launch, by our analysis," Swartzberg added. "In an extreme worst case - including the assumption that C2 stays highly visible and does not sell at all - approximately $0.04 of 3Q EPS would need to be "found" for 3Q estimates that treat the launch as breakeven to remain unchanged."