NECCO gets help from Mass. governor, will remain open
REVERE Candy hearts maker NECCO will stay open thanks to help from Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s help in finalizing a deal with a buyer.
The candy company, which relocated from Cambridge to Revere a few years ago, was considering shutting down if it could not find a buyer, state officials said.
But after NECCO, also known as the New England Confectionary Co., found a potential match, Patrick administration officials helped close the deal, mediating months of complex negotiations.
Officials said no state grants or tax incentives were needed, just help from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development in negotiating. Bethesda, Md.-based American Capital Strategies closed the deal late last year after eight months of talks.
Without a buyer, NECCO might have had to shutter operations, a move that would have cost 650 jobs, officials said.
“It’s great to know that an iconic classic like NECCO is staying right here in the commonwealth,” said Kofi Jones, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
“There were times when it didn’t look like it was going to work,” said Dominic Antonellis, NECCO’s chief executive officer. “People from the Massachusetts Office of Business Development helped me hold people together and keep the deal strong.”
Anheuser-Busch prepares to launch Bud Light with lime
CHICAGO Having watched rival Miller Brewing Co. take its fledgling lime-and-salt flavored Miller Chill brand national last year, Anheuser-Busch is getting ready for the launch of its lime-flavored Bud Light.
The brewer said it would support the May launch with a $35 million media, merchandising and sampling blitz, including entertainment and sports TV, online, print and outdoor ads.
“Our extensive consumer research indicates that the Bud Light Lime concept and taste are off the charts with today’s consumers,” the company’s vice president of innovations, Pat McGauley, and vice president of trademark brands, Dan McHugh, said. “This insight will allow us to take Bud Light to the next level.”
The company said the brand’s “consumer target” were light-beer drinkers ages 25 to 54 who prefer a “sweeter” beer, as well as “trendsetters and aspirers.”
Miller has done a respectable job with the Chill launch, according to industry executives, who claim the brand has sold 450,000 barrels, good for a 0.3 percent market share. At launch, the company said the goal was a 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent market share by the end of this year.
Coke improves Q4 earnings per share by 79 percent
ATLANTA The Coca-Cola Co. Wednesday reported that fourth-quarter earnings increased 79 percent compared with the prior year on a reported basis.
The company reported a per share increase of 52 cents, and 58 cents after considering items impacting comparability, an increase of 12 percent.
Earnings per share for the quarter included a net charge of 6 cents per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2006 were 29 cents and included a net charge of 23 cents per share primarily related to a non-cash impairment charge at Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. an equity investee.
Earnings per share for the year were $2.57, an increase of 19 percent compared with the prior year on a reported basis, and $2.70 after considering items impacting comparability, an increase of 14 percent. Earnings per share for the year included a net charge of 13 cents per share primarily related to restructuring charges and asset write-downs. Full year 2006 earnings per share were $2.16 and included a net charge of 21 cents per share primarily related to a non-cash impairment charge at CCE.
“This has been a year of significant accomplishment,” said Neville Isdell, Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive officer. “We have delivered strong business results and increased value to our shareowners by expanding our consumer appeal across our beverage brands and connecting in very meaningful ways with the communities we serve. By successfully executing our clearly defined strategies with our bottling partners, we delivered 6 percent unit case volume growth for the year and four consecutive quarters of double-digit earnings per share growth.
“Importantly, this growth was balanced across our geographies and portfolio of brands. On a worldwide basis, sparkling beverage volume increased a solid 4 percent, and still beverages increased 12 percent. We remain focused on driving sustainable long-term growth and value for our shareowners, while delivering against our stakeholder needs each day. With our strategies in place, our expanded brand portfolio and our geographic balance, we are well prepared to respond to opportunities and challenges ahead and anticipate another good year in 2008.”
President and chief operating officer Muhtar Kent added, “Clearly, our strategies are right and our execution is working, as 2007 was a successful year for The Coca-Cola Co. As evident from our results, we consistently delivered on our promise of executing against our growth agenda. Our international business, led by the emerging markets, continues to drive our overall growth, while stabilizing key markets like Japan , the Philippines and North America underscores our ability to re-energize major markets.”
“I am pleased with the progress we made against our 2007 priorities,” Kent said. “We are now better positioned to capture the significant growth opportunities. As we look to 2008, the foundation is in place to deliver another successful year of balanced geographic and brand growth for The Coca-Cola Co”