Profit shaved at chocolate maker Barry Callebaut


Swiss chocolate and cocoa giant Barry Callebaut posted Wednesday sweeter annual sales but restructuring costs and a challenging confectionary market nibbled away at its profit.

The world’s leading cocoa company said it pulled in a net profit of 219 million francs ($226 million, 203 million euros) during its fiscal year that ended in August — an 8.7-percent drop from the previous fiscal year.

The slumping net profit was largely attributed to a morose market for cocoa-based products, restructuring costs, swelling tax expenses and the impact of unfavourable exchange rates.

Increased volumes however helped boost Barry Callebaut’s sales to 6.7 billion Swiss francs.

That marks an increase of 8.8 percent when expressed in local currencies, although a strong franc meant sales swelled by just 7.0 percent when expressed in the Swiss currency, the company said.

Over the fiscal year, Barry Callebaut said it sold 1.8 million tonnes of cocoa products — up 2.2 percent from the previous 12-month period.

Following the announcement, the company saw its share price inch up 0.57 percent in mid-morning trading to 1,235 Swiss francs a piece as the overall market slipped slightly.

Analysts polled by the AWP financial news agency had expected the company to rake in a net profit of 224.6 million Swiss francs on sales of 6.6 billion.

“Good profitability in our chocolate business was offset by a challenging cocoa products market, as anticipated,” company chief Antoine de Saint-Affrique said in the earnings statement.

In light of the market challenges, the company said it had deliberately been phasing out less profitable contracts.

Instead, it said it had been focusing more heavily on growing segments like its The Gourmet Specialties business, which saw sales soar 12.4 percent during the fiscal year.

The company, which produces chocolate for food giants like Nestle and Mondelez, meanwhile confirmed its three-year outlook, saying it aims to grow volumes by 4.0-6.0 percent on average annually.

For the fiscal year ended in August, the company said it would propose paying shareholders a dividend of 15.50 Swiss francs per share, up from 14.50 a year earlier.

© 2016 AFP

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