The soft drinks bottler, PepsiAmericas Inc., has reduced its volume growth and earnings forecasts for the fourth quarter and the full fiscal year. The company, which is the second largest bottler of Pepsi brands, attributed the reduced forecast to soft domestic CSD volumes.

The group also announced that it intended to take a charge of between $6m and $7m in the fourth quarter in respect of severance costs and accelerated depreciation of assets related to the revamping of its distribution system in Central Europe.

PepsiAmericas said it is now forecasting that earnings for the full year will be between 87 cents and 90 cents per share. On a pro forma basis, stripping out the exceptional charge in the fourth quarter, earnings per share are expected to be between 90 cents and 93 cents, against PepsiAmerica's previous forecast of $1.00 to $1.02 per share.

Earnings per share forecasts for the fourth quarter have been reduced from between 18 cents and 20 cents a share to between 5 cents and 8 cents per share. Analysts had been forecasting around 19 cents per share.

The company said that it had achieved strong volume gains in the first three quarters of the year but this had been offset by the weak first 10 weeks of the fourth quarter. "The unusually weak fourth quarter obscured PepsiAmericas' performance and progress in 2002," said chairman and CEO, Robert Pohlad.

PepsiAmericas expects domestic volumes to rise by no more than 1% in the fourth quarter and by 2% to 2.25% for the full year.