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Coca-Cola's global soda volume rose in the fourth quarter, even though Diet Coke continued to suffer declines

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ATLANTA — Coca-Cola's global soda volume rose in the fourth quarter, even though Diet Coke continued to suffer declines.

The world's largest beverage maker said Tuesday global soda volume rose 2 percent in the final three months of last year, while non-carbonated drink such as bottled water rose 6 percent.

Coke executives have said Diet Coke's decline has been largely a U.S. issue. That trend continued in the quarter, with the company's North America region seeing another drop in Diet Coke sales volume. But Coke Zero, which uses different sweeteners and has been marketed toward men, saw growth.

Other major diet sodas have also waned in popularity. In hopes of reviving sales of Diet Pepsi, for instance, PepsiCo swapped out the sweetener in the soda over the summer. PepsiCo has previously said it's too early to tell whether that change has helped win back customers.

Coca-Cola said its organic revenue, which strips out the impact of acquisitions and divestitures and the impact of currency fluctuations, declined primarily as a result of six fewer days in the quarter compared to a year ago. That was partially offset by higher pricing, the company said.

Coke also announced plans to refranchise all its company-owned bottling territories by the end of 2017.

PHOTO: FILE - In this July 9, 2015, file photo, bottles of Coca-Cola are on display at a Haverhill, Mass., supermarket. On Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, Coca-Cola Co., reports financial results. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
FILE - In this July 9, 2015, file photo, bottles of Coca-Cola are on display at a Haverhill, Mass., supermarket. On Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, Coca-Cola Co., reports financial results. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

For the final three months of the year, Coke earned $1.24 billion, or 28 cents per share. After excluding one-time items, it earned 38 cents per share. That was a penny more than Wall Street expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Total revenue fell 8 percent to $10 billion in the period, but was higher than the $9.86 billion analysts expected.

Coke shares have decreased almost 1 percent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has fallen slightly more than 9 percent. The stock has climbed nearly 3 percent in the last 12 months.

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Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on KO at http://www.zacks.com/ap/KO

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Keywords: Coca-Cola, Earnings Report, Priority Earnings

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