* EPS $0.18 vs consensus $0.16
* Revenue fell 3.7 percent to $404.9 million
* Gross margin increased to 15.8 percent of sales (In U.S. dollars)
TORONTO, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Canadian soft-drink maker Cott Corp (BCB.TO) (COT.N) reported a third-quarter profit that topped expectations, helped by a strong performance from its British operations and a thirst for private-label products.
Cott, the world’s largest maker of private-label soft drinks, said on Thursday that it had earned $13.9 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $87.6 million, or $1.25 a share, that included $95.8 million in goodwill and other asset impairment charges.
The company said a strong performance in its British division offset the effects of foreign exchange fluctuations.
Revenue fell 3.7 percent to $404.9 million.
Analysts on average were expecting 16 cents a share and revenue of $404.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Gross margin increased to 15.8 percent of sales from 11.3 percent a year earlier.
Recession-wary consumers shifted to private-labels products, which typically cost 15 percent to 25 percent less than the national brands, as the economic downturn took hold.
Recent data showed private-label sales rose 2.7 percent from a year ago, marking the 14th consecutive four-week period of positive growth for such soft drinks. ($1=$1.09 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)