By Mike Cherney 
 

SYDNEY--Australian drinks bottler Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. said underlying earnings fell 14% in 2020, but performance in its key local market improved in the all-important holiday period.

The bottler, which released preliminary 2020 results on Friday, said underlying earnings before interest and tax, excluding one-time items, was 550.7 million Australian dollars (US$427.7 million), down 14% from the prior year. Underlying net profit was A$340.3 million, though no comparison was provided to 2019.

Overall, group volume was down about 8% in 2020 and revenue was down about 6%. The company's fiscal year aligns with the calendar year.

Volume in Australia in the fourth quarter, which includes Christmas, rose 0.4%, marking the first time quarterly volume increased in 2020. Sales took a hit during the pandemic given that consumers were stuck at home and couldn't eat out at restaurants and other venues as usual. Australia is the company's biggest market.

But volume in Indonesia, once a bright spot for the company, fell 18% in the fourth quarter, given that coronavirus infection rates remain high and tough macroeconomic conditions.

The company warned that month-to-month volatility remains and that sales can vary considerably by location based on prevailing coronavirus restrictions at the time.

Coca-Cola Amatil said it continues to progress a deal to sell itself to Coca-Cola European Partners PLC, a Coke bottler in Europe. Coca-Cola Amatil said it would send a scheme booklet to shareholders in early March.

Audited 2020 results will be released on Feb. 18.

 

Write to Mike Cherney at mike.cherney@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 21, 2021 17:08 ET (22:08 GMT)

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