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Container deposit scheme weighs on Coca-Cola Amatil

Emma Rapaport with AAP  |  22 Feb 2019Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX: CCL) has posted a 6.5 per cent decline in full-year net profit, dragged down by new state recycling schemes and challenges abroad.

The beverage giant's underlying net profit from continuing operations slumped 6.5 per cent to $388.3 million in the six months to 31 December, while total revenue rose just 1 per cent to $4.8 billion.

The company's first-half statutory profit slipped 37 per cent due to a $146.9 million writedown of fruit and vegetable canning business SPC.

Across operations, the New Zealand/Fiji division and the Alcohol/Coffee division were the only two divisions to report earnings before interest and tax growth, delivering increases of 7.3 per cent and 12.1 per cent respectively. Australian Beverages, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea and Corporate Services dragged own the company's overall performance.

Morningstar director of equity research Adam Fleck described the result as choppy, noting that it was affected by the new government container deposit schemes in NSW and Queensland.

Under the scheme, consumers can return bottles for a 10c refund. This has led the company and brewers to pass on the cost of the scheme to wholesale customers and in turn, the public. Prices rose by about 13.6 cents per container, excluding GST, or $3.20 for a 24-drink carton.

Fleck said consumers were struggling to find collection points and were feeling the price increases, leading to worse-than-expected sales results across the beverage selection.

A key positive is the volume growth of Coca-Cola Amatil's trademark No Sugar product, which Fleck says is a testament to the company's strong distribution capability and innovation arm. However, he expects volumes to decline as the health trend takes hold.

Overseas markets posted a dip in revenue. In Indonesia, slower consumer spending, a weak currency and higher commodity prices took a toll, while in Papua New Guinea there were logistics and manufacturing challenges.

New Zealand, however, continues to drive volume growth, delivering earnings before interest and tax margins of 19 per cent. Alcohol and Coffee, led by the success of premium flavoured milk brand Barista Bros, also shone.

Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Alison Watkins attributed the profit slide to 2018 being a transition year, and maintained the company was on track to deliver growth by 2020.

Coca-Cola Amatil says it expects a full-year EBIT loss of $10 million to $20 million due to lower property rental and service earnings, increased group capability, and investment in IT platforms.

Fleck says it's going to be at least another year before the company can argue they've righted the ship.

The company's $146.9 million writedown of the carrying value of SPC's assets follows a decision to sell the struggling Victorian business in November.

Coca-Cola said it deemed the writedown "prudent" after receiving several strong but varied offers for SPC, leaving the financial outcome of any sale process uncertain.

The company delivered a final dividend of 26 cents per share, franked to 50 per cent.

. Emma Rapaport is a reporter for Morningstar Australia.

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