Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) made it real today, announcing fourth-quarter and year-end earnings. It was a predictably flat year for the soda giant, as it struggles against worldwide economic woes and its own restructuring efforts. But there were some bubbly spots to be found.

One was total revenue, which rose 11.5% for the year to $19.6 billion and 13% in the quarter to $4.8 billion. Worldwide unit case volume, an important measure of strength, improved 5% for all of 2002 and 6% for the quarter.

Coke owes some of that growth to its acquisitions and licensing agreements for Evian and Danone waters and Seagram's mixers. Without them, volume would have grown by 4% in the quarter and 4.5% for the year. New products Vanilla Coke and Diet Coke with Lemon also helped volume.

Net earnings were hit, in part, by Coke's commendable decision to expense stock options, as well as the Financial Accounting Standards Board's change in goodwill accounting standards. On an annual basis, income dropped 23% to $3.1 billion. Operating income, though, inched up to $5.5 billion from 2001's $5.4 billion.

Coke grew free cash flow an impressive 16% to $3.9 billion. The company spent some of that moolah -- $691 million, to be exact -- on stock repurchases in 2002, and plans to do more of the same in 2003.

To further cut costs and improve efficiency, Coke will close three German bottling plants and reduce staff there by 900 employees. In North America, its cutting 1,000 jobs and combining operations at Coca-Cola North America, Minute Maid, and Fountain. The company will take a $400 million pretax charge because of these initiatives in 2003, with the bulk of the charge falling in the first half of the year.

Coke's now trading at half of its 1998 peak, but at a trailing price to free cash flow of 25, the company's still not a bargain.