FRENCH food group Danone has kept its full year goals intact despite a worsening economic climate in austerity-hit southern Europe, saying it banked on strong demand from emerging markets to underpin its growth.
The world’s largest yoghurt maker, with brands including Actimel and Activia, also said first-quarter sales beat expectations after its lagging dairy division showed signs of turning the corner in the key US and Russian markets.
“It’s a good start to the year. We are staying cautious but we are optimistic,” finance chief Pierre Andre Terisse said.
Like-for-like sales grew 6.9 per cent in the quarter, beating analysts’ forecasts for 5.8 per cent growth, driven by strong demand for baby food, medical nutrition – mostly liquids administered to hospital patients – and water in emerging markets. Total sales, which include the effects of foreign exchange fluctuations, reached €5.117bn (£4.21bn), a reported rise of 7.6 per cent. Danone confirmed its target of five to seven per cent like-for-like sales growth for 2012 and a flat operating margin.