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Soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises has raised its earnings guidance for 2009, but said it expects the North American market to remain challenging in 2010.

Net earnings per share for the 12 months to the end of December is expected to be in a range of US$1.56 to $1.59, compared to previous guidance of $1.54 to $1.57, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) said today (17 December).

"Despite the impact of a difficult economic environment, we have made tremendous progress in 2009," said the bottler's chairman and CEO, John Brock.

"As a result of this progress, and our focus on strengthening our balance sheet, we are now able to begin substantially increasing returns to our shareowners," he said.

Net sales in 2009 are expected to "decline slightly", but will rise in low to mid single digits when the effects of unfavourable currency are excluded, said the group.

Looking ahead to 2010, Brock warned: "In North America, we will face continued marketplace challenges related to general macroeconomic conditions."

He said that CCE remains optimistic about the region returning to growth in the longer term

Europe is expected to show greater promise in 2010. "In Europe, strong operating and brand plans, including a consistent focus on our Red, Black, and Silver initiative, the World Cup, energy expansion, and growth in stills, will drive continued growth," Brock said.

Comparable earnings per share are expected to rise by high single digits in 2010, the firm said.

For the full announcement, click here.

An update, following the group's conference call, appears here.

 


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