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Pepsi Bottling raises Q2 earnings view

Pepsi Bottling Group raised its earnings forecast for the current quarter and full year on Tuesday, citing improved U.S. soft drink sales, lower commodity costs and less volatility in currency exchange rates.

This is the second time in less than two months that the bottler, which is the object of an unsolicited takeover bid by PepsiCo Inc , has raised its 2009 earnings outlook, as it tries to get PepsiCo to raise its bid.

PepsiCo offered a total of $6 billion to buy the remaining stakes in its two largest bottlers, Pepsi Bottling and PepsiAmericas Inc, in an attempt to cut costs and secure more control of its distribution system. It offered $29.50 per share for Pepsi Bottling and $23.37 per share for PepsiAmericas - 17% premiums over the target companies' closing stock prices the day before the offers were made.

Both Pepsi Bottling and PepsiAmericas rejected the offers, saying they undervalued the companies' strengths and strategies.

“Improving fundamentals in our U.S. and Canada business, coupled with the success of our global pricing strategy, are producing solid results,” Pepsi Bottling Chief Executive Eric Foss said in a statement.

Consumer Edge Research analyst Bill Pecoriello said the higher forecast was not surprising, given the leverage the company is hoping to gain for a higher bid price.

“We still see the deal getting done on friendly terms over the next few weeks and believe we could see agreement around $38 for Pepsi Bottling and $28 for PepsiAmericas,” Pecoriello wrote in a research note.

Pepsi Bottling shares closed at $33.21 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange, where PepsiAmericas closed at $26.34.

For the second quarter, Pepsi Bottling said it now expects to earn 70 cents to 74 cents a share, up from its prior view of 65 cents to 69 cents.

It said it expects full-year earnings of $2.30 to $2.40 a share, up from its prior forecast of $2.20 to $2.30.

Analysts on average were expecting profit of 69 cents per share for the second quarter and $2.25 for the full year, according to Reuters Estimates. (Reuters)