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    Coca-Cola Scales Back Earnings Forecast

    Company expects weak results to persist.

    ATLANTA -- The Coca-Cola Co. is scaling back its long-term targets for sales volume and earnings growth amid continuing weakness in key markets, including North America, reported the Associated Press.

    The forecast, announced on Thursday, came as a result of an operational review that chairman and CEO Neville Isdell and other senior managers have been conducting for several months. Isdell was named CEO in May to replace the retiring Doug Daft.

    In a news release in advance of a presentation to analysts, the company said it expects volume growth of 3 percent to 4 percent, down from its previous targets of volume growth of 5 percent to 6 percent. It also projects operating income growth of 6 percent to 8 percent, compared to 10 percent previously. Coke is projecting earnings per share growth in the high single-digits, which had been 11 percent to 12 percent.

    The company said it expects continuing weak results to persist into 2005 in key markets including North America, Germany and the Philippines.

    Coca-Cola will also step up its annual marketing and innovation investments by $350 to $400 million in 2005. The company does not disclose how much in total it spends in this area. Most of this money will go to advertise its core brands, the company said.

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