Groupe Danone operating income up 9% in first half

by Eric Schroeder
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PARIS — Trading operating income rose 9% in the first half of fiscal 2007 at Groupe Danone, prompting the company to confirm its full-year objectives of like-for-like sales growth between 6% and 8% and an increase in trading operating profit between 7% and 10%.

For the first six months, Groupe Danone had sales of €7,553 million ($10,337 million), which included sales of €4,369 million in fresh dairy products, €2,139 million in beverages and €1,045 million in biscuits and cereal products. The figures marked like-for-like sales gains over the previous year of 12% for fresh dairy, 5% for beverages, and 5% for biscuits and cereal products.

The company said its North American fresh dairy sales grew at a better than 10% clip during the first half of fiscal 2007, boosted by the successful launch of Actimel and the continued growth of its probiotics-based products.

In the first half, trading operating income in fresh dairy products increased 14% to €614 million. Beverage operating income increased 6% to €296 million, while biscuits and cereal products sales fell 6% to €145 million. The decline in biscuits primarily was attributed to comparisons with exceptional performance in 2006, the company said.

"These results illustrate once again the dynamism and strength of a group, whose resilience confirms its status, year-on-year, as a champion of growth," said Franck Riboud, chairman and chief executive officer of Danone. "In the context of our recently announced strategic moves, this performance places us in a robust position as Danone enters the next exciting phase of development. A Danone that will be fully focused on health, totally international in character and that has an even stronger growth profile."

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