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[ZURICH] Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut on Wednesday reported a 7.6 per cent year-on-year rise in nine-month sales revenue and maintained its mid-term targets.
The company, which sells chocolate and other cocoa products to candy makers including Nestle and Hershey, said sales for the nine months to May 31 rose to 4.644 billion Swiss francs (US$4.91 billion).
Zurich-based Barry Callebaut said nine-month sales volume growth was 2.5 per cent, below the group's mid-term target of 6-8 per cent per year. "As communicated, we expect sales volume to gain more momentum in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year," Chief Executive Juergen Steinemann said in a statement.
Switzerland-based companies like Barry Callebaut are struggling with a surge in value of the franc, sparked by a January central bank policy move to stop defending a currency cap and uncertainty over Greece's position in the euro zone.
Barry Callebaut has limited operational exposure to the franc's rise as it conducts the vast majority of its business outside of Switzerland. But results are hit when it converts foreign earnings into francs.
When adjusted for currency effects, nine-month sales rose by 12 per cent.
Weaker than expected cocoa supply from Ghana has also been a headache for the industry.
The West African country's cocoa output this season has fallen short of initial forecasts of more than 1 million tonnes, a fact that has rattled the global cocoa market given that it is the world's second-largest producer behind Ivory Coast.
Barry Callebaut confirmed the group's mid-term targets of 6-8 per cent annual volume growth and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) per tonne of 256 francs by next year.
Shares in Barry Callebaut are up 2.9 per cent so far this year, lagging a 9.4 per cent rise in the European food sector index.