The Chilean Coke bottler, Embotelladora Andina SA (AKOB), reported a net profit of US$16.5m in the fourth quarter of 2001, representing a 46% decline from the $30.4m net profit in the final quarter of 2000.

The company, which operates in Chile, Brazil and Argentina, said the fall was due to weak regional economies and in particular the worsening economic situation in Argentina. The depreciation in the Chilean peso and Brazilian real was also said to have negatively affected AKOB's performance.

Operating income declined by 22% in the quarter chiefly as a result of currency devaluation and price cuts. But sales volumes rose by 2.8% overall from 97.6 million cases to 100.4 million cases. Volumes were up by 3% in Chile and 2% in Brazil and were reported to be flat in Argentina. Sales in value terms fell by 2.6% to $207.7m.

The company posted a non-operating loss of $12.2m against a loss of $5.4m in the last quarter of 2000 but it attributed the increased loss in part to a $7.5m accounting charge.

For the year, Andina posted a net profit of $50.5m, a marginal improvement from the $49.6m it recorded in 2000. Sales volumes were up from 309.8m cases to 339m cases, rising by 1% in Chile, by 10% in Argentina and by 17% in Brazil.

Net sales in value terms advanced by 5% in 2001 to $736m with most of the increase coming from the inclusion of the NVG bottling operation in Brazil, which it acquired during 2000, and increased revenue in Argentina.

The company's full-year EBITDA reached $147.3m, with Argentina accounting for 25%. Andina predicted a fall in EBITDA during the coming quarters as a result of lower earnings and sales in Argentina.