Chocolate Maker Barry Callebaut Sees Recovery After Full-Year COVID Hit
Barry Callebaut saw sales volumes recover in the final quarter after slumping revenue from restaurants and hotels during the COVID-19 pandemic spoiled the picture in its fiscal year to August.
Chocolate makers are grappling with weak demand as consumers staying home to avoid infection with the virus buy less chocolate on impulse, while traveling or as gifts.
Chief executive Antoine de Saint-Affrique told reporters on a call that the company, which makes chocolate for big food groups like Nestlé or Hershey, was now better placed to deal with the ongoing virus challenge, and that solid financials supported its confidence in its mid-term guidance.
"None of the learnings are lost, we are better equipped and faster in a context that is also a bit better, lockdowns are shorter and less strict," he said.
He declined to give guidance for the current fiscal year, saying there would a "progressive" recovery in the gourmet and specialties business with restaurants, chefs and bakeries, where sales volumes fell 14.1% in 2019/20.
Barry Callebaut appointed company veteran Ben De Schryver, currently head of Asia Pacific, as new chief financial officer effective January 1, replacing Remco Steenbergen who leaves to become finance head of Lufthansa.
Recurring net profit fell 18.5% to CHF 319.3 million (€295.3 million), while sales volumes declined 2%. After a 14.3% drop in the third quarter, they were down 4.3% in the final quarter, Barry Callebaut said.
It proposed to pay a dividend of 22 Swiss francs per share for 2019/20, versus 26 francs a year ago, and confirmed its outlook for 5%-7% volume growth on average each year for the three-year cycle that started in September.
Shares, which have fallen almost 7% this year, were indicated to open 1.2% higher.