Coca-Cola Co. said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has made it impossible to predict what its performance will look like this year, warning that the effect on the second quarter will be “material.”
Sales volumes have declined about 25% globally since the start of April, the beverage giant said in its earnings statement Tuesday. The effects of social-distancing measures and lockdowns have hurt sales primarily outside the home, as stadiums and entertainment centers, where the company gets about half of its revenue, remain closed. The ultimate impact on full-year results will depend on the duration of those measures, Coke said.
Earnings per share and organic revenue, which strips out currency effects, outpaced analyst expectations in the first quarter. Coke shares alternated between gains and losses in early trading Tuesday.
While the ultimate impact can’t be predicted, Coke said it “believes the pressure on the business is temporary and remains optimistic on seeing sequential improvement in the back half of 2020.”
The company said it saw “early pantry loading” in certain markets as stay-home measures were put into place, but grocery shopping then returned to normal levels. E-commerce, however, sharply increased.
Soft drink volumes fell 2% in the first quarter, with China driving the trend, the company said. The Asian nation was the first to lock down its economy as Covid-19 spread rapidly, killing thousands. China’s virus measures also hurt juice sales in the period, which fell 6%.