Pepsi Bottling Group Inc, the world's largest bottler of Pepsi drinks, has reported earnings in the first quarter up by over 17%, as the US market registered solid volume growth.

The company said it earned US$54m, compared with US$46m a year earlier. Revenues rose to US$1.77 billion from $1.65 billion.

Pepsi Bottling said diluted earnings per share were at $0.19 for the twelve-week first quarter ending March 23, 2002. These results represent a 20% increase over EPS of $0.16 in the first quarter of 2001.

"As PBG celebrates its third anniversary, we are pleased to report to our shareholders another quarter of double-digit earnings growth," said Craig E. Weatherup, the company's chairman. "Volume growth throughout the US was particularly strong this past quarter, along with a solid increase in net revenue per case and corresponding margin improvement.

"Our strong execution in the marketplace led to another quarter of carbonated soft drink market share gains, with significant improvement in trademark Pepsi volume trends. Additionally, our entire non-carbonated portfolio remains a powerful growth engine, with Aquafina leading the pack."

PBG CEO John T. Cahill said: "We delivered a solid first quarter, setting the stage for a strong 2002. As we prepare for the critical summer selling season, we have an exciting marketing calendar, as well as compelling new product and package introductions planned."

He continued: "We not only delivered strong growth this past quarter, we were active on the acquisition front as well. Last month, we completed our ninth transaction in North America, which is consistent with our objective of growth through acquisitions, with particular focus on North America. In the international arena, we are quite excited about the growth prospects that our acquisition of Turkey offers and already have begun executing our plans for that business."