Coca-Cola Enterprises today (27 October) reported a fall in third-quarter earnings per share, on the back of charges related to Hurricane Katrina. The company added that it expected the cost of the hurricane to continue affecting it into the fourth quarter.

CCE reported third quarter EPS of 40 cents, compared to 44 cents in the same period last year. However, EPS in the first nine months reached US$1.20, up on the US$1.09 reported last year.

The soft drinks bottler said results for the third quarter include expense items totalling 7 cents per share primarily related to restructuring costs in North America and asset write-offs associated with property damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Reported operating income totalled US$423m for the third quarter, and US$1.2bn for the first nine months. Comparable operating income increased 5% for the third quarter, excluding restructuring costs and hurricane-related asset write-offs.

"Our third-quarter performance demonstrates the results of focused execution in the marketplace, dedication to our revenue management principles, and continued focus on minimising growth in our costs," said Lowry F. Kline, chairman of the board. "With this consistent direction, we are working through the challenges of difficult retail and category conditions in Europe as we achieve strong top line growth in North America with a combination of improved volume and pricing.

"We attained solid results in North America despite the effects of Hurricane Katrina late in the quarter, which included higher costs and lost sales in a key Coca-Cola heartland territory," Kline said. "These factors are reflected in our bottom-line results and are not part of the charge this quarter for damage to our property and equipment in the New Orleans area."

Bottle and can physical case volume increased by 0.5% for the third quarter and first nine months. Third quarter and year-to-date volume in North America was up by 1%. Third quarter immediate consumption sales were up by 4% in North America driven by strong sales of Dasani flavoured waters, Powerade, and Full Throttle and Rockstar energy drinks. European volume was down by 2% in the quarter and declined by 1.5% in the first nine months.

"The sales disruption and higher costs that have resulted from recent hurricanes will continue to have a financial impact in the fourth quarter. We now expect full-year comparable 2005 EPS in a range of US$1.27 to US$1.30, excluding the items outlined in this release," Kline said.

CCE continues to expect cash flow from operations less capital spending to total approximately US$700m. Capital spending is expected to total approximately US$950m in 2005.