Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated (Nasdaq: COKE) today announced a first quarter loss of $2.0 million for the first quarter of 2000, which compares to a $4.5 million loss for the first quarter of 1999. On a per share basis, the company lost $.22 in the first quarter of 2000, a 56% improvement compared to the $.54 loss incurred in the first quarter of 1999.

Net sales for the first quarter of 2000 were up 4%, driven by a 9% increase in revenue per unit and a 5% decline in unit sales. Excluding volume from acquired territories, unit sales declined by approximately 7.5%. The strong increase in average revenue per unit led to a $7.8 million or 33% increase in operating cash flow.

J. Frank Harrison, III, Chairman and CEO, said that he was very encouraged by the improvements in the Company's first quarter financial performance. Mr. Harrison said that he believed the decline in unit volume was temporary and was in line with our expectations for the quarter. Increased selling prices have had a negative impact on unit sales volume and first quarter volume growth also was affected by the shifting of the Easter holiday, which impacted the first quarter of 1999 but will occur in the second quarter of 2000. Mr. Harrison said that CCBCC has grown unit sales in excess of the industry average for more than 10 years. During the past 3 years, unit sales growth significantly outpaced the industry growth rate, but selling prices did not keep pace with cost increases, thus margins narrowed and net income declined. In 2000, the Company has begun to increase selling prices in order to cover increasing raw material costs and improve operating margins.

James L. Moore, President and COO, said that the increased net pricing in the first quarter drove a 15% increase in gross margin, which led to a 33% increase in operating cash flow. Depreciation and interest expense were up 10% and 19%, respectively, driven primarily by significant 1999 capital investments and slightly higher interest rates. The company's net loss improved by 56% to $2.0 million. Mr. Moore said he believed the negative impact of price increases on unit volume would subside over the next few months as customers and consumers become more accustomed to higher prices. However, Mr. Moore cautioned that the Company has experienced a strike, beginning in mid-March, involving several branches in the Company's West Virginia territory. The impacted branches represent approximately 7% of the Company's total sales. For the first quarter of 2000, the strike did not have a significant impact on the Company's sales or operating income. If the strike continues, it could have a slight dampening effect on both sales and profitability for the remainder of 2000.

Forward looking statements.

Included in this news release are several forward-looking management comments and other statements that reflect management's current outlook for future periods. These expectations are based on the current available competitive, financial and economic data along with the Company's operating plans, and are subject to future events and uncertainties. Among the events or uncertainties which could adversely affect future periods are: lower-than- expected net pricing resulting from increased marketplace competition, an inability to meet performance requirements for expected levels of marketing support payments from The Coca-Cola Company, material changes from expectations in the cost of raw materials and ingredients, higher than expected fuel prices, an inability to meet projections for performance in newly acquired territories and unfavorable interest rate fluctuations. The forward-looking statements in this news release should be read in conjunction with the detailed cautionary statements found on page 19 of the Company's 1999 Annual Report to shareholders.

  • In Thousands (Except Per Share Data)

                                                 First Quarter
                                       2000           1999          1998
     Net sales                     $ 228,184       $ 220,263     $ 203,331
     Cost of sales                   122,243         128,111       118,397
     Gross margin                    105,941          92,152        84,934
     Selling, general and
      administrative expenses         74,242          68,224        66,479
     Depreciation expense             16,090          14,648         8,780
     Amortization of goodwill and
      intangibles                      3,664           3,262         3,175
     Income from operations           11,945           6,018         6,500
     Interest expense                 13,936          11,695         9,258
     Other income (expense), net      (1,019)         (1,215)       (1,157)
     Income (loss) before income
      taxes                           (3,010)         (6,892)       (3,915)
     Federal and state income taxes
     (benefit)                        (1,053)         (2,412)       (1,453)
     Net income (loss)             $  (1,957)      $  (4,480)    $  (2,462)
     Basic net income (loss) per
      share                        $    (.22)      $    (.54)    $    (.29)
     Diluted net income (loss) per
      share                        $    (.22)      $    (.54)    $    (.29)
     Weighted average number of
      common shares outstanding        8,733           8,365         8,365
     Weighted average number of common
      shares outstanding - assuming
      dilution                         8,733           8,365         8,365
     Income from operations        $  11,945       $   6,018     $   6,500
     Amortization of goodwill and
      intangibles                      3,664           3,262         3,175
     Depreciation expense             16,090          14,648         8,780
     Operating cash flow           $  31,699       $  23,928     $  18,455