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Sat, Feb 25, 2006 - Page 12 News List

New president of Coca-Cola looks to foreign markets


International business and sales of non-carbonated beverages will play key roles in The Coca-Cola Co achieving its long-term growth targets, a top executive told investors on Thursday.

Muhtar Kent, the newly appointed president of Coca-Cola's international division, said at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, that the Atlanta-based company is looking to expand on the 20 billion unit case volume that it recorded last year in over 200 countries.

He cited Mexico, China and Turkey as areas where the company believes there is growth potential for the world's largest beverage maker.

"We feel very strongly that we can continue our momentum in these emerging markets," Kent said.

Kent reiterated Coca-Cola's long-term goals to increase volume 3 percent to 4 percent, operating income 6 percent to 8 percent and earnings per share by high single digits on an ongoing basis. He said the company believes those goals are realistic.

While carbonated soft drinks are the company's bread and butter, Kent said growth in sales of juice and water brands are important to Coca-Cola's future.

Last month, Coca-Cola named Kent, a company veteran, to a newly created position of president of international operations.

Coke's chief executive, Neville Isdell, said at the time that it was "premature" to consider whether Kent, who is responsible for all of the company's operations outside of North America, could one day be his replacement.

Isdell and his predecessor, Doug Daft, have international backgrounds.

In Kent's new role, the presidents of Coke's international regions report to him.

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