A strong performance from developing and emerging markets helped soft drinks group, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Co. (CCHBC), to turn in first half results ahead of expectations.

Net profit for the first half rose from €02.m to €16.9m. Analysts had been expecting a figure of around €10m. "There will obviously be some impact on sales in the third quarter from this summer's poor weather but we maintain (our) full-year targets for 2002 of 14% to 16% EBITDA growth and 6% to 8% sales volume growth," said CCHBC managing director, Irian Finan.

First half EBITDA, expected to rise by around 11% from €248.7m to £275.9m, increased by 17% to €291.1m, boosted by strong sales growth in emerging markets like Ukraine and Romania and developing markets, including Hungary and the Czech Republic.

EBITDA in emerging markets was up by 48% at EUR83.9m, while the developing markets EBITDA increased by 54% from €29.8m to €45.9m. Volume sales in the company's largest emerging market, Russia, grew by 19% to 67m unit (5.68 litre) cases. Group revenues rose by 17% from €1.69 billion to €1.98 billion.

CCHBC restated its intention to develop sales of non-carbonated soft drinks. Finan said the company is aiming to increase sales of non-carbonated soft drinks to 20% of overall sales volumes over the coming three years against 13% in 2001.