CCE to offset big loss with job cuts

From the Associated Press

Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., the biggest bottler of Coca-Cola beverages, said Tuesday that it would cut about 3,500 jobs, or 4.7% of its workforce, as it reported a whopping $1.7-billion loss in its fourth quarter.

The Atlanta-based company said it expected to report a corresponding charge of about $300 million, which would be booked this year and in 2008.

The move had been widely anticipated by analysts who said the company has struggled with higher costs for aluminum and other commodities, and a shift in consumer tastes away from carbonated beverages to juices, teas and waters. The company said the restructuring would "create a highly efficient supply chain and order-fulfillment structure, and improve customer service by implementing new selling systems for many of our customers."

CCE has 74,000 employees, a spokeswoman said.

Coca-Cola Co., the world's largest beverage maker, is to report its fourth-quarter and year-end 2006 results today. It owns a stake in CCE, which bottles Coca-Cola products and delivers them to market.

CCE's fourth-quarter loss amounted to $3.59 a share, compared with $57 million, or 12 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, CCE said it earned $95 million, or 20 cents a share. Revenue rose 6% in the quarter to $4.8 billion, compared with $4.5 billion a year earlier.

For all of 2006, CCE said it lost $1.1 billion, or $2.41 a share, compared with $514 million, or $1.08, a year earlier. Twelve-month revenue rose to $19.8 billion, compared with $18.7 billion a year earlier.

CCE shares rose 42 cents to $20.95.

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