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Danone Confident About 2024 Sales After Stellar Full-Year

By Reuters
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Danone Confident About 2024 Sales After Stellar Full-Year

French food group Danone said it was starting this year with confidence after it delivered 2023 sales growth at the top end of its forecast, and improved its profit margin as higher prices offset lower volumes.

"Building on the positive momentum of 2023, we are starting this financial year with confidence in our Renew strategy," CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique (pictured) said in a statement.

Amid encouraging signs at the world's largest yoghurt maker, Saint-Affrique cited the "visible progress" of the Essential Dairy and Plant-based (EDP) business in Europe and group sales volumes that turned positive in the fourth quarter as pricing eased.

Mid-Term Ambition

For 2024, Danone said its forecast was in line with its mid-term ambition of like-for-like sales growth of 3% to 5%, with a moderate improvement in recurring operating margin.

The consumer goods giant, which owns brands including Evian and Badoit water and Activia yoghurt, reported 2023 sales of €27.619 billion, a like-for-like rise of 7% – at the top end of its 6% to 7% sales growth guidance and in line with analysts expectations.

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The food group's operating margin for full year 2023 rose to 12.6% of sales from 12.2% in 2022, compared with average analysts' estimates of 12.5%.

For the fourth quarter ended December 31, sales grew 5.1%, slightly above market estimates of 5%, with contribution from all its three businesses - EDP, Specialised Nutrition and Waters.

Price Increases

Danone, like its rivals Nestlé and Unilever, has increased prices to cope with higher commodities and supply chain costs.

But this has raised concerns that companies were pushing prices too far, amid a cost of living crisis that is seeing retailers' private label brands stealing market share.

With record cash flow of €2.6 billion in 2023, Danone said it would give a 5% dividend hike to €2.10.

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