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Nestle says sales down but growth up 6.4 percent

Thu, 04/14/2011 - 10:17pm
The Associated Press

Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle SA reported Friday first-quarter sales of 20.26 billion Swiss francs, compared to 22.34 billion francs in the comparable period a year ago, with organic growth still up 6.4 percent.

The Vevey, Switzerland-based company blamed the strength of the strong Swiss franc on exchange rates for shaving 9.8 percent off its first quarter sales and said turnover was down 1.2 percent compared to first quarter sales in 2010.

But it said organic sales growth was 6.4 percent, while real internal growth was 4.9 percent. Nestle said quarterly sales reflected "strong, broad-based growth, building on the momentum in 2010."

It said the organic growth was 4.3 percent in the Americas, 3.9 percent in Europe and 13.8 percent in Asia, Oceania and Africa.

Earlier this year Nestle boasted a full-year net profit for 2010 of 34.23 billion francs, inflated by the sale of its stake in eye care company Alcon to Swiss drug maker Novartis AG, that added 24.5 billion francs net to Nestle's balance sheet.

But Nestle said Friday the disposal of Alcon, taking into account the effect of acquiring Kraft Foods Inc.'s frozen pizza business early in 2010, led to a contraction of 5.9 percent of turnover.

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