Nestle sales miss forecasts, sees pick-up

Swiss food giant Nestle on Tuesday reported first-quarter sales below analysts' expectations as a stronger Swiss franc took its toll, but said it expected sales to pick up later this year.

A late Easter and cold weather in the U.S. cooled consumer sentiment, Nestle said. Sales came in at 20.8 billion Swiss francs ($23.6 billion), missing the 21.456 billion Swiss franc forecast in a poll of Reuters analysts.

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Nestle's Svitoch factory in Lviv, Ukraine
Vincent Mundy I Bloomberg via Getty Images

The group confirmed its full year outlook; performance will be weighted to the second half and the group expects organic growth of around 5 percent.

"Our organic growth in the first months of the year was in line with expectations and driven by volume rather than price. The continued roll-out of new products, along with good execution, sustained this growth in difficult market conditions," CEO Paul Bulcke said in a statement.

"We expect the continued strengthening of the Swiss Franc to have a negative impact on reported sales."

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The firm's organic growth slowed to 4.2 percent in the first quarter, down from 5.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, slightly beating expectations of 4.1 percent forecast in a Reuters poll.

Although severe weather had an impact on North American sales, new product launches including pizza and confectionery lines helped lift growth.

The food group said emerging market growth was solid, and in developed markets well known brand names such as KitKat and Nescafe performed well.

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