PepsiAmericas, the second-largest bottler of Pepsi drinks, has today (25 April) reported a slump in first-quarter earnings, pointing to higher pricing and a late Easter holiday.

The company saw operating income fall by 20.6% during the first three months of 2006 to US$45.7m. Net sales rose 2.3% but global volumes fell 1.1%.

The results compared unfavourably with those released by Pepsi Bottling Group last week, which saw revenues rise by 10% to US$2.4bn, buoyed by a 6% rise in sales by volumes.

"Poor volume results out of PepsiAmericas indicate that Pepsi Bottling's solid revenue growth was not replicated across the US," wrote UBS analyst Caroline Levy in a research note.

Robert C. Pohlad, chairman and CEO of PepsiAmericas said the results were a "wake-up call for the organisation".

"While our first quarter results were less than we wanted, I am confident that we will deliver our full-year earnings per share guidance," he added.

Operating income in the US was down 14%, although the company saw sales of non-carbonated drinks grow by 25%. Pohlad also pointed to buoyancy in the company's international business.

"In our international businesses, we are off to a solid start," he said. "Central European volume grew, while the Caribbean delivered strong top line growth. We also intend to acquire the remaining 51% interest in the Romanian Pepsi bottler later this year, increasing our presence in developing international markets."