Coke Backs Growth Target, to Launch New Slogan

Coca-Cola Co. (KO), the world's biggest soft drink maker, Wednesday backed its long-term earnings growth target and unveiled a new marketing slogan that welcomes consumers to "The Coke Side of Life."

The announcement came during Coke Chief Executive E. Neville Isdell's meeting with financial analysts in New York.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, which has struggled for five years to boost sluggish soft drink sales and meet changing consumer tastes, affirmed its long-term annual earnings per share growth target of 6 percent to 8 percent.

Unit case volumes, a key sales measure in the beverage industry, are still forecast to rise between 3 percent and 4 percent per year, Isdell said.

He added that investors could expect to see the company pursue more bolt-on, smaller geographic acquisitions in 2006.

Also during the presentation, Coke marketing chief Mary Minnick announced the company's new advertising slogan, "Welcome to the Coke Side of Life." The campaign will include variations like "Chill on the Coke Side of Life," she added.

Coca-Cola has introduced several diet and reduced-calorie drinks in recent months to meet changing consumer tastes. It is also now packaging Coca-Cola in an 8.4 ounce can and touting that the serving has just 100 calories, Minnick said.

Shares of Coca-Cola were down 51 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $42.03 on the New York Stock Exchange. It had been down just 0.4 percent at the beginning of the company's presentation.