Lindt & Sprüngli recorded strong sales growth in 2012 and could prove an attractive “end game” acquisition for fellow Swiss confectioner Nestlé, according to one analyst.
Lindt sales were up 7.3% to CHF 2.7 billion ($2.9 bn) in its full year results released today.
Strong in US
“With a continuing increase of investments in marketing and point-of-sale activities, together with innovative new product launches, the company’s seasonal and permanent business advanced strongly,” said Lindt in a statement.
John Cox, an analyst at Kepler Capital Markets, told ConfectioneryNews.com that Lindt’s sales had accelerated during the second half of the year as the US market excelled and it benefitted from seasonal ranges and a recovery of the high chocolate segment, making it an attractive acquisition target to bigger players like Nestlé.
Consumers less price-conscious
Lindt was particularly strong in developed markets in Europe including Germany, France and the UK and also enjoyed growth in North America.
According to Cox, Lindt’s continuing strong performance in developed markets showed consumer attitudes had shifted.
“The consumer is changing somewhat and is not so cost-conscious,” he said.
Lindt also reported higher volumes and market share gains.
Lindt ‘the end game’ for Nestlé
Cox previously told this site that a larger company could come in for Lindt. Today he stood by his view.
He said, for Nestlé: “The most likely end game scenario would be Lindt.”
“Ultimately it will be another Swiss company and Nestlé fits the bill,” he said, adding that Ferrero had also been touted.
Lindt reported progress in Australia and in emerging Asian markets.
The firm set up subsidiaries in Shanghai, China, and Moscow, Russia, during the year and plans to grow firstly in conventional urban sales channels and secondly through its global retail organization.
Cox said that Lindt would see growth in emerging markets in 2013, but it would take time for it to see strong results in Asia as consumers slowly developed an appetite for premium chocolate.
Lindt has forecast operating profit growth in 2013. It expects operating margins to reach the upper end of 20 to 40 basis points.