Coca-Cola Enterprises raises 2010 profit forecast; discusses pending sale

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Coca-Cola Enterprises lifts full-year guidance

ATLANTA — The bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises boosted its full-year profit forecast on Tuesday and said it anticipates completing the sale of its North American operations to Coca-Cola Co. in the fourth quarter.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, announced in February that it would buy the North American operations of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., its biggest bottler, for $3.4 billion. It would also assume $8.88 billion in debt.

In exchange, the bottler will buy certain foreign bottling operations from Coca-Cola, and its shareholders will get shares for a new company and $10 a share.

A special shareholders meeting set to approve the deal is scheduled for Oct. 1.

Coca-Cola Enterprises said it expects to buy back about $1 billion of its shares over the course of 18 months after the deal closes. It anticipates an annual dividend of 50 cents.

The company foresees that the new business will have long-term revenue growth of 4 percent to 6 percent, with high single-digit earnings per share growth.

Coca-Cola Enterprises raised its 2010 guidance for net income to a range of $1.78 to $1.82 per share, which includes a negative currency impact of about 7 cents at current levels. Its prior guidance was for net income between $1.73 and $1.77 per share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, whose estimates normally remove one-time items, predict net income of $1.80 per share for the year.

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