Lindt ‘playing in another league’ after stellar 2014, says analyst
The firm released its 2014 sales data this morning. Group sales were up 17.4%, reaching CHF 3.39bn ($3.34bn) including the contribution of Russell Stover - the first time the Swiss firm’s sales have surpassed CHF 3bn.
‘A world of its own’
Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, said Lindt was “a world of its own” and “playing in another league”.
In an analyst’s note, he said Lindt’s growth was hard to believe considering cocoa prices hikes, a tough market environment and a high comparison base.
Speaking to ConfectioneryNews, he said: “The chocolate market in the period was probably 2-3%.”
Why is Lindt thriving?
The analyst said Lindt has succeeded where others hadn’t due to its focus on quality and innovation.
“One third of organic growth came from Lindt’s own shops,” he said. He added that the company’s wholesale division had also grown due to increased retail shelf space and product launches such as Carnevale, Diva and Hello.
“When they prove that their product is successful year-on-year, retailers are willing to provide space,” said Bertschy.
Lindt had forecast 6-8% organic growth in 2014, excluding the Russell Stover acquisition but achieved 9.8% growth.
Lindt said it was operating in a sluggish European economic climate, but experienced improved consumer behavior in North America.
Europe was up 6.5% in local currencies with strong performance in France and Germany. Strong seasonal performance also helped the firm grew in double digits in the UK.
Lindt grew sales 14.3% in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region with all its three US subsidiaries growing double digit, driven by product launches.
The company’s Rest of the World segment grew 13.9% led by Australia and new subsidiaries in Japan, Russia and China.
Lindt expects to improve EBIT margin by 20 to 40 basis points in 2014, excluding the Russell Stover acquisition. The company will release its full 2014 financials on March 10.
Bertschy said he initially saw the Russell Stover acquisition – reportedly in the region of $1.2-1.4bn – as a risk and had expected Lindt’s overall growth for 2015 to be around 2-8%. But after the latest figures he now expects Lindt to maintain sales growth at 6-8%.