Swiss chocolatier Lindt has recorded sales below market expectations and could be subject to a takeover from Nestle, according to an analyst from Kepler Capital Markets.
Lindt released its 2011 sales report today in which it reported organic sales growth of 6%
The company achieved annual sales of €2.05bn (CHF 2.49bn) in 2011. In 2010 its sales were slightly higher at €2.12 (CHF 2.57bn).
Jon Cox, head of European food and beverage research at Kepler told ConfectioneryNews.com: “The sales were solid enough but the market had expected an acceleration in organic growth in H2 [second half of the financial year] - so that was a bit disappointing.”
According to a statement from the company its strategic target had been met and it reported its highest market share in the company's history in the pralinés segment.
However, the company complained of a massive negative currency influence of 9.5%
Nestle takeover on the cards?
Between 2010 and 2011, Cox had told this site that Lindt could be the subject to a takeover with Nestle and Asian confectioner Lotte the likeliest candidates.
“Ultimately I still believe Lindt is a takeover target with Nestle the most likely acquirer - but that could be some years away,” he said today.
Outlook for 2012
According to Cox, the US market will be the biggest growth driver for Lindt going into 2012.
The company reported strong growth in the US, France, Germany and the energy Chinese market. However, adverse weather and economic conditions stunted growth in Italy, Spain and Australia.
“The positive development of Lindt in Hong Kong, is very pleasing and builds a sound foundation for the further development of the Chinese market, which will be pushed henceforth in the context of the geographical expansion of the Group,” said the company.
Cox added: “I expect a solid year from supply side perspective - cocoa prices, and other commodities, are falling while the dollar has strengthened,” he said.
“However, the demand side is the big question - I presume slow Easter business given economic mood but a better second half,” he continued.
The company said it expects good operating profit going forward with a margin increases within 20 to 40 basis points.