Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., the biggest bottler of Coca-Cola beverages, said Tuesday it would cut about 3,500 jobs, or 4.7 percent of its work force, as it reported a whopping $1.7 billion loss in the fourth quarter.
The Atlanta-based company said it expects to report a corresponding charge of about $300 million, which will be booked in 2007 and 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.”
“Through this restructuring, we will enhance standardization and consistency in our operating structure and business practices,” CCE said in a statement.
CCE currently has 74,000 employees, spokeswoman Laura Asman said.
The Coca-Cola Co., the world’s largest beverage maker, is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter and year-end 2006 results on Wednesday. It owns a stake in CCE, which bottles Coca-Cola products and delivers them to market.
CCE’s loss in the fourth quarter, which included a hefty franchise impairment charge, amounted to $3.59 a share, compared to a loss of $57 million, or 12 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.
Excluding one-time items, CCE said it earned $95 million, or 20 cents a share. On that basis, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 16 cents a share.
Revenue rose 6 percent in the fourth quarter to $4.79 billion, compared to revenue of $4.50 billion recorded in the same period a year ago.
For all of 2006, CCE said it lost $1.1 billion, or $2.41 a share, compared to a profit of $514 million, or $1.08 a share, for the same period a year ago. Twelve-month revenue rose to $19.80 billion, compared to $18.74 billion recorded in the same period a year ago.
Also Tuesday, Coca-Cola Enterprises announced strategic initiatives to expand its existing product portfolio “in fast growing beverage groups” and to make its distribution more efficient.
Its shares rose rose 29 cents, or 0.61 percent, to close at $48.21 on the New York Stock Exchange.