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Greek Coke Hellenic Q1 net loss widens

Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCH) , the worlds second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola Co. soft drinks, posted a wider than expected loss in the first quarter, hurt by austerity in debt-laden Greece and higher commodity costs.

The Athens-based company, with operations in 27 countries in Europe and in Nigeria, said on Thursday comparable net loss came in at 19 million euros ($24.6 million), higher than analysts average 14.2 million euros forecast in a Reuters poll.

The bottler said the volume of unit cases sold dropped by 2 percent year-on-year to 425 million.

"We continue to witness macroeconomic uncertainty in all of our EU markets," the companys chief executive Dimitris Lois said in a statement. "We are also facing persistent input cost pressures, whose year-on-year growth peaked in the first quarter," he added.

On the other hand, the company said it maintained or increased its market volume share in sparkling beverages in most of its markets, including Italy, Switzerland, Russia and Ukraine.

The company reiterated its intention to invest 1.45 billion euros in 2012-2014. It expects to generate the same amount in free cash flow.
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