Nestlé posted a 4.3% sales increase during the three months to the end of March, it announced during an investor call.
Chief Executive Mark Schneider warned against reading too much into the company’s first-quarter results, (posted Friday 24) as customers stockpiled food to deal with coronavirus shutdowns. He told analysts and investors the situation remained “highly volatile”.
Nestlé would not be able to forecast the financial impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on its business, Schneider added. “It is important not to get carried away by the strong organic growth.”
Sales in North America and Europe were particularly strong in March, helping to drive an overall rise of 4.3% in the first three months of the year, beating analyst expectations for a 3% increase, Reuters reported.
Schneider said Nestlé was working to adapt to the virus conditions and ensure it had enough raw materials and factory capacity to meet the increased demand, while also taking safety precautions against COVID-19.
Demand in China, the first country hit by COVID-19, was starting to recover but was not at pre-crisis levels, the company said.
In a press statement, Nestlé said it is still too early to assess the full impact of COVID-19, but will maintain its original full-year 2020 guidance for “the time being”. The Swiss food giant expected continued improvement in organic sales growth and underlying trading operating profit margin. Underlying earnings per share in constant currency and capital efficiency are expected to increase.