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PepsiCo Q4 results top expectations

NEW YORK--PepsiCo's net income rose 17 percent in the fourth quarter as it raised prices and sold more of its snacks and drinks around the world.

The company's earnings and revenue beat analysts' estimates. It also provided an annual earnings outlook in line with Wall Street expectations and raised its quarterly dividend by 5.6 percent.

Shares of PepsiCo rose on the news.

The results mark the end of what CEO Indra Nooyi said would be a “transitional year,” with the company embarking on a cost-cutting program and stepping up investment in its flagship brands. PepsiCo's brands include Frito-Lay, Gatorade and Quaker.

“I believe that 2012 marked a turning point for PepsiCo,” Nooyi told investors during a conference call after the results were released. “We truly stepped up our game and created the foundation for continued improvement and competitive advantage.”

The company, based in Purchase, New York, has been increasingly looking for growth from countries such as China and India where the appetite for packaged foods and drinks is rising more quickly than in the saturated U.S. market. But over the past year, PepsiCo has also made a point of investing more heavily in its namesake soda in North America, most recently with the sponsorship of the Super Bowl halftime show starring Beyonce.

As eating and drinking habits change, PepsiCo is also focusing on new products that position it for the future. For example, it introduced a mid-calorie version of its namesake soda called Pepsi Next last year to win back soda drinkers who want to cut back on calories but don't like the taste of diet colas. And this month, it's introducing a Mountain Dew breakfast drink marketed toward young men who don't like coffee or tea.

For the period that ended Dec. 29, PepsiCo Inc. earned US$1.66 billion, or US$1.06 per share. That's compared with US$1.42 billion, or 89 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding a pension charge and other items, earnings were US$1.09 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected US$1.05 per share.

Revenue dipped 1 percent to US$20 billion from US$20.2 billion, hurt in part by the stronger dollar, the refranchising of its businesses in China and Mexico and an extra week in last year's quarter. Still, the performance topped Wall Street's estimate of US$19.8 billion.

Shares of PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York, added 78 cents to close at US$72.28 Thursday.

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In this Feb. 7, 2012 file photo, Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry cans are displayed at a store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. PepsiCo's net income rose 17 percent in the fourth quarter as it raised prices and sold more of its snacks and drinks around the world. (AP)

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