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UK: Cadbury Schweppes profit up 5.5%

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The UK-based soft drinks to sweets group, Cadbury Schweppes, reported profit before tax, goodwill amortisation, restructuring charges and disposal gains for the year to December 29 2002 of £935m, up 5.5% from £886m the year before. But the company's shares fell following the group's warning that it expected earnings at its North American beverage operations, Dr Pepper Seven Up (DPSU), would be flat in 2003.

The company also said its planned integration of its North American beverage operations, bringing together its carbonated drinks subsidiary, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, with its juice operation, Mott's, and the non-carbonates company, Snapple, would be disruptive in 2003.

Cadbury Schweppes said its North America beverage sales rose by 3% to £1.8 billion with operating profits up by 1% at £548m. But at constant exchange rates, sales and operating profits rose by 7% and 6% respectively.

The like-for-like sales volume performance was negatively affected by the termination of certain of distribution deals for 7-Up with Pepsi affiliated bottlers. Volumes of 7-Up fell by 7%. The company said that Dr Pepper volumes improved during the year, benefiting from the implementation of the "volume impact programme" and the launch of a new variant, Red Fusion, in the third quarter.

European beverages sales rose by 39% with operating profits up by 54%. Excluding exchange rate effects, sales were up by 40% with operating profits up by 56%. The company said acquisitions - of Orangina in France, La Casera in Spain and Squirt in Mexico - had made a significant contribution to the overall results. Like-for-like sales growth of 3% was impacted by poor summer weather in Southern Europe.


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