The snack and soft drinks giant today said it had finished the year with a strong fourth-quarter performance across all its business segments. The company said that each of its operating divisions posted solid top line growth, and total division operating profits increased by 10%.

Revenue for the fourth quarter grew 9% to US$8.8 billion. For the full year, division revenue increased 8% to US$29.3 billion, largely driven by volume gains, positive mix and favourable foreign exchange. A net improvement in foreign exchange rates contributed almost two percentage points of revenue growth in both the fourth quarter and full year.

Division operating profit in the fourth quarter grew 10% to $1.6 billion. For the full year, division operating profit grew 12%. Net income for the quarter increased 8%. Excluding non-recurring items, net income increased 10% in the quarter and 12% for the full year.

Reported EPS increased by 10% in the quarter to US$0.58; excluding non- recurring tax benefits and restructuring charges, EPS grew 12%.

Chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund said: "2004 was an outstanding year for PepsiCo, and I am very pleased with the very strong performance in the fourth quarter to close out the year. Throughout the year, we delivered performance that exceeded our long-term growth targets, and I am particularly pleased with the momentum in our international business."

PBNA, PepsiCo's North American beverage division saw total volumes grow 2% and 3% for the quarter and full year respectively.

Carbonated soft drink (CSD) volume grew almost 1%, behind strong innovation and despite lapping the launch of Pepsi Vanilla in 2003.

"The quarter benefited from the introduction of two "limited-time-only" offerings: grape-infused Mountain Dew Pitch Black for Halloween and Pepsi Spice for the year-end holiday season; and sales of Pepsi Edge, a mid-calorie cola with full-cola taste that was launched in the third quarter," a statement said.

Non-carbonated beverages grew almost 8% in the quarter. Gatorade posted strong double-digit growth in its seasonally low quarter. Tropicana juice drinks, introduced earlier this year, continued to perform well, the company said.

Aquafina grew in high single digits, despite a very competitive retail pricing environment. Propel Fitness Water, which is the leading enhanced water, continued to grow in the high double digits. Tropicana Pure Premium posted volume growth of approximately 1% in a very competitive pricing environment.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo International reported that it full year revenues had grown 14%. Both CSDs and non-carbonated beverage had double-digit growth.

In Latin America, high single-digit beverage volume growth was led by Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. In Europe, Mideast and Africa double-digit growth was led by strong performance throughout the Mideast and in Russia, and volume in Germany rebounded from the impact of the bottle deposit legislation imposed in 2003. China and India led the double-digit growth in the Asia Pacific region, the company said.

In a statement the company said it now expects earnings per share for 2005 of at least US$2.55.

The statement added that in response to The Pepsi Bottling Group's (PBG) ongoing share repurchase program, the PepsiCo intends to begin a programme to reduce its ownership of PBG shares, ultimately to the strategic level established at the time of PBG's initial public offering.

The company and its affiliates intend to sell up to 7.5 million shares during 2005 beginning in February, pursuant to a 10b5-1 trading plan.