July 31, 2008 / 12:48 PM / 9 years ago

Cott posts loss as revenue, volume drops

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Cott Corp (BCB.TO) (COT.N), the world’s biggest maker of private label soft drinks, reported a surprise second-quarter loss on Thursday as higher prices were more than offset by a 6.4 percent decline in revenue.

Cott, which said last month it will cut jobs as part of a plan to reduce costs by up to $44 million annually, said it lost $1.8 million, or 3 cents a share, for the period ended June 28. That compares with a profit $4.7 million, or 7 cents per share, in the same period last year.

On average, analysts had expected a profit of 2 cents a share before items, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue declined to $466.5 million in the quarter, lagging analyst expectations of $493 million in sales.

Volume fell 9.12 percent, driven largely by an 11 percent decline in North America. Ingredient and packaging costs rose 1 percent.

Second-quarter gross margin was higher at 12.2 percent from 12 percent in the same period last year, reflecting higher prices and a more favorable product mix, Cott said.

Cott is refocusing on its private label business to try and improve its results. The company has also said it will combine certain executive jobs and shut down several bottling lines, but not plants.

“We are on track to deliver the cost savings described in connection with the refocus plan announced in June,” Chief Financial Officer Juan Figuereo said in a statement.

“We are executing against our plans to achieve the 50 percent to 70 percent increase in operating profit, adjusted for restructuring and other unusual items, discussed in June.”

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Scott Anderson

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