The FINANCIAL -- The Coca-Cola Company's start to 2018 built on prior momentum, with strong financial performance in the first quarter.
While reported net revenues continued to be impacted by refranchising, the company delivered organic revenue (non-GAAP) and volume growth across all geographic operating groups. The company gained value share globally, in addition to seeing improved trends across the beverage industry overall.
"We're encouraged with our first quarter performance as we continue our evolution as a consumer-centric, total beverage company," said James Quincey, President and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. "We have the right strategies in place and remain confident in our ability to achieve our full year guidance."
During the first quarter, the company expanded its portfolio and continued to drive revenue growth. The company's unit case volume grew 3% with an acceleration in smaller, immediate consumption packaging as revenue growth management initiatives were successfully executed in the market. The company's portfolio continued to evolve and expand through world-class innovation, expansion of the lift, shift and scale model and bolt-on M&A, anchored by continued strength in core brands. These disciplined growth strategies, underpinned by a stronger and aligned system along with a winning culture, helped to drive the business forward, according to the Coca-Cola Company.
Revenues: Net revenues declined 16% to $7.6 billion for the quarter, impacted by a 26% headwind from refranchising of bottling territories. Organic revenues (non-GAAP) grew 5% for the quarter, driven by concentrate sales growth of 4% and price/mix growth of 1%.
Volume: Total unit case volume grew 3%, with growth across all category clusters and geographic operating groups. Trademark Coca-Cola was the largest contributor, with a clear acceleration in all brands under the trademark.
Margin: Operating margin, which included items impacting comparability, grew over 220 basis points. Comparable operating margin (non-GAAP) expanded 600 basis points, driven by divestitures of lower-margin bottling businesses and the company's ongoing productivity efforts, partially offset by the adoption of the new revenue recognition accounting standard.
Market Share: The company continued to gain value share in total nonalcoholic ready-to-drink ("NARTD") beverages.
Cash Flow: Cash from operations for the quarter was $613 million, down 20% primarily due to the refranchising of North American bottling territories and the impact of one less day in the quarter. Free cash flow (non-GAAP) was $339 million, up 5% driven by reduced capital investment needs.
Share Repurchases: Purchases of stock for treasury for the quarter were $927 million. Net share repurchases (non-GAAP) totaled $471 million.
Leveraging the strength of leader brands: The company continued to capitalize on its leadership position in sparkling soft drinks. A consistent focus on the One Brand Strategy for Trademark Coca-Cola led to 4% volume growth, fueled by 3% growth in brand Coca-Cola and double-digit growth in Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. This performance, along with driving profitability within sparkling through revenue growth management initiatives, led to 6% growth in global retail value for Trademark Coca-Cola.
Expanding presence in on-trend categories: After the recent acquisition of the U.S. rights to Topo Chico premium sparkling mineral water, the company was able to extend the brand's reach through increased distribution, while preserving its strong heritage. The brand grew its U.S. retail value over 30% during the quarter and gained value share in the fast-growing sparkling water category.
Innovation within iconic brands: Diet Coke returned to volume growth in North America during the quarter, following a full brand restage. The introduction of four bold, new flavors, along with contemporary, sleek packaging and innovative marketing, helped lift the performance of the brand.
Scaling successful brands rapidly: During the quarter, the company leveraged its strength in distribution to lift, shift and scale leading brands around the world. Fuze Tea, which was already available in 49 countries, was introduced in an additional 37 countries across Europe, featuring new herb and fruit-infused flavors with fewer calories. The single-day launch of Fuze Tea in Europe was executed on a scale that was unprecedented in the company’s history.