Despite lower volume growth in the US and Spain, The Pepsi Bottling Group today reported its 15th consecutive quarter of double digit earnings growth. The group said diluted earnings per share were at $0.61 for the third quarter ending September 7, 2002, compared to EPS of $0.55 per share in the third quarter 2001.

Worldwide physical case volume on a constant territory basis grew 1% for the quarter, with volume growth in the US at 1% as well.  Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) grew 6% on a constant territory basis and nine percent on a reported basis.

"This quarter, PBG continued its well-established trend of generating consistent, strong results for its shareholders," said Craig E. Weatherup, chairman of PBG. "This 15th consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth was the result of our unrelenting focus on execution in the marketplace as well as strong net revenue per case management in the U.S. Volume growth was modestly lower than we expected in both the US and Spain, while our business in Russia continued to generate excellent volume results."

John T. Cahill, chief executive officer of PBG, said: "As we look to the final months of 2002, we are committed to improving our net revenue per case growth through rate increases, as well as executing an array of new in-store promotions designed to drive consumer excitement. We also are looking forward to completing our acquisition of Pepsi-Gemex and successfully integrating this important business into our operations."

In the US, the company said that the solid volume growth experienced in the large format segment was partially offset by softness in the PBG's on-premise business. International volume increased 1% on a constant territory basis, with significant volume gains achieved in Russia partially offset by volume declines in Spain.

Looking forward, PBG reaffirmed that in fiscal 2002 it continues to expect worldwide volume growth of 2% and a 10 to 12% increase in EBITDA. The Company raised the lower end of its full year EPS guidance from $1.41 to $1.42. The EPS guidance provided by PBG now is $1.42 to $1.45. Operating free cash flow in 2002 is expected to be $375 million, an increase of $80 million over prior year.