Nestle growth slows in 2014 but dividend gets a hike

Lynsey Barber
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Nestle is still targeting better growth for 2015 (Source: Getty)

The figures

Profits were up by 4.4bn Swiss francs (£3bn) to 14.5bn Swiss francs (£10bn), but sales growth slipped.

Organic sales growth for 2014 came in at 4.5 per cent, just below targets of five to six per cent for the second year running, however, it's still targeting five per cent growth for 2015.

Sales fell 0.6 per cent to 91.6bn Swiss francs, slightly ahead of expectations but a drop on the previous year, with the effect of negative foreign exchange weighing down.

Nestle will increase its dividend to 2.20 Swiss francs per share, up on the 2.15 Swiss franc payout last year.

Why it's interesting

Nestle is the biggest manufacturer in the world and what happens with the maker of Kit-Kats is a hint of what's to come for other food giants such as Unilever and Mondelez.

The producer of bottled water, coffee and pet food, among other things, has experienced sluggish growth and consumer confidence has been fragile in both developed and emerging markets.

Being Switzerland-based, the firm also felt the effects of the Swiss currency crisis late last year, and investors will want a sense of any longer-term effect on its business.

What Nestle said

Chief executive Paul Bulcke said:

These are strong results, building on the good growth of past years and delivered in a soft trading environment. They demonstrate the intrinsic strengths of Nestle: the commitment of our people, our global footprint, the strength of our portfolio and the quality of our innovation.

While delivering in the short term, we remain focused on our business long term, strengthening the foundations of future growth. We expect 2015 to be similar to 2014 and we aim to achieve organic growth of around five per cent with improvements in margins, underlying earnings per share in constant currencies and capital efficiency.

In short

Nestle has delivered positive growth, benefiting from the sale of its stake in L'Oreal somewhat, and despite the miss on growth, investors will be kept on side by a dividend hike.

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