Coca-Cola has struck preliminary deals to begin handing back more of its US distribution network to independent bottlers, a move that’s expected to improve profit margins. The news came minutes before the world’s biggest beverage maker reported first-quarter results, which topped expectations. It earned $1.75 billion, or 39 cents per share, compared with $2.1 billion, or 45 cents, a year ago. Excluding items, it earned 46 cents per share. Analysts expected 45 cents per share.