Third quarter sales at French dairy product, bottled water and biscuit group Danone were up 7.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis, prompting the company to reiterate its expected 5.2 per cent rise in sales for the year a whole.
Sales for the first nine months of 2002 were up 5.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis. In actual terms, consolidated turnover of €10.5 billion was down 4.9 per cent from €11.0 billion in the same period of 2001, due to a negative impact of 5.2 per cent from exchange rates and 5 per cent from changes to the scope of consolidation.
Sales from the dairy business, which includes brands such as Actimel and Petit Gervais were down from €5.2 billion to €4.8 billion in actual terms for the year-to-date period, but ahead 8.7 per cent on a like-for-like basis.
Beverage sales - including Evian and Volvic mineral water - were ahead 2.9 per cent on a like-for-like basis to €2.99 billion, though dropping from €3.1 billion in actual terms.
Sales from the biscuit and cereal business (including the LU and Prince brands) were up 2.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis to €2.4 billion, but dropped slightly from €2.5 billion in actual terms.
Sales in France rose 5.7 per cent during the nine-month period to €3.15 billion, again on a like-for-like basis, while the rest of western Europe saw sales of €3.5 billion, up 5.5 on a like-for-like basis but down from €3.9 billion in actual terms.
The rest of the world accounted for sales of €4.5 billion, up 5 per cent on a like-for-like basis, though dropping from €4.8 billion in actual terms.
"The performance to date, in line with our internal objectives, allows Groupe Danone to confirm our full year targets for 2002," the company said in a statement. "Like-for-like sales growth should be up by at least 5.2 per cent and operating margins should increase by 40 to 50 basis points."
Danone has been active in a number of its core markets in recent months, adding two water cooler businesses in Canada and Europe and the St Ivel dairy spreads business in the UK the last month alone. Net profits this year will also be boosted by the sale of its beer business, Kronenbourg, to Scottish & Newcastle in the UK.