Coca Cola Amatil has signalled $140 million in savings through several measures to weather the coronavirus.
The beverage giant on Friday said it had implemented cost management programs including “significant” reduction in incentives, recruitment freezes, reduced marketing expenditure and minimising discretionary spend.
The company also said non-critical projects had been deferred, reducing capital expenditure for FY2020 from $300 million to $200 million.
Coca Cola Amatil managing director Alison Watkins said the board had decided to temporarily withdraw the group’s dividend payout ratio guidance.
She said this would provide the group with additional flexibility to address any future headwinds or further adverse economic conditions arising from the pandemic.
The company will make a decision on the 2020 dividend at the time of the 1H2020 financial results.
Ms Watkins said Coca Cola Amatil’s debt at March 31 was approximately $1.8 billion, with committed debt facilities totalling $2.6 billion at an average maturity of 5.4 years.
The group has approximately $500 million of committed bank facilities available and $920 million in cash that it holds on bank deposit, providing financial flexibility in the current uncertain environment.
“We have ample liquidity to serve debt maturities of around $305 million which will be due for repayment in 2020, with additional flexibility to pursue strategic opportunities that arise,” Ms Watkins said.
However, Ms Watkins said the first quarter of 2020 was “highly unusual”, given the double-impact of the Australian bushfires and the adverse impacts of the coronavirus.
The group delivered low single-digit percentage volume and revenue growth in 1Q2020 compared to 1Q2019, driven primarily by its Indonesian business.
Earnings however were down by mid-teens percentage for the quarter on the prior corresponding period.
The company said this reflected the impact of the bushfires in January and February, planned additional marketing expenditure in Indonesia and margin erosion as a result of changes in channel mix in March when social distancing restrictions were introduced.
Ms Watkins said in March 2020 the group experienced mid single-digit percentage volume growth versus March 2019 as consumers engaged in stockpiling.
Earnings, however, was down by low single-digit percentage compared to March 2019 due to the pronounced channel shift to grocery across our markets, she said.
“The first two weeks of April have included the lead up to Easter and Ramadan which are significant trading periods for our businesses,” Ms Watkins said.
“This period has been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 and government measures with many customers closed or in decline, and people staying at home across all of our markets.
“As a result, our volumes have reduced by approximately 30 per cent on the prior corresponding period, with Indonesia down close to 50 per cent and Australia down approximately 15 per cent.”
Ms Watkins also said the group’s strong balance sheet, liquidity and “solid” credit ratings meant it was in a strong position financially and operationally to trade through the pandemic.
Coca Cola Amatil shares were down 22 cents, or 2.39 per cent to $8.97 at 1108 AEST.