(Adds CEO comment, detail, background, share price indication)
ZURICH, April 12 Chocolate and cocoa product
maker Barry Callebaut confirmed mid-term sales growth
guidance and reported first-half net profit rose more than
expected as a phase-out of less profitable contracts in its
cocoa business bore first fruit.
At a time chocolate makers face declining global demand,
Barry Callebaut is outperforming the market because big groups
outsource their chocolate production to the company and its
gourmet business for chefs is also growing quickly.
"Markets are difficult everywhere, particularly in
confectionery in the United States," Chief Executive Antoine de
Saint-Affrique told reporters on a call on Wednesday, adding he
expected to see an improvement in Europe this year and expected
the good momentum for the company to continue.
Net profit rose to 142.1 million Swiss francs ($141 million)
in the first half of fiscal year 2016/17, the supplier of
chocolate to food groups such as Nestle and Unilever
said in a statement. This was ahead of a 127
million franc average estimate in a Reuters poll.
Sales volume growth at the Zurich-based company was up 1.4
percent in the half to February, just below a 1.7 percent poll
estimate. It accelerated to 3.5 percent in the second quarter
from slightly negative growth in the first quarter. First-half
sales revenue rose to 3.54 billion Swiss francs.
While the phasing-out of less profitable contracts in its
cocoa business had a negative impact on volume growth, new
outsourcing contracts, notably with Mondelez, and the
fast-growing Gourmet & Specialties business helped the company
outpace a 2.1 percent decline in the global chocolate
confectionery market in the six months to February.
Barry Callebaut, which says it makes one out of four
chocolate and cocoa products consumed worldwide, confirmed its
mid-term targets of 4-6 percent volume growth, with earnings
before interest tax above volume growth in local currencies on
average up to 2017/18.
Barry Callebaut's shares, which have risen more than 8
percent so far this year, were indicated to open 1.2 percent
($1 = 1.0072 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz, editing by John Miller and