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Danone Sales Grow 7.7 Percent In First Half

Fri, 07/27/2012 - 10:59am

PARIS (AP) — French food and drink company Danone reported Friday that its revenue grew 7.7 percent in the first half of the year, as it continues to expand in Asia to offset stagnant growth in its core market of Europe.

The Paris-based maker of Activia yogurt and Evian bottled water warned this year that the economic slowdown in Europe would hit its performance. On Friday, it confirmed its new expectations that its revenue would grow 5 to 7 percent in 2012 and that core operating margin would be slightly lower than last year's.

The positive results pushed its stock up Friday on the Paris bourse, where it rose 1.6 percent in morning trading.

Despite tough conditions in Europe, Danone's net income was resilient in the first half, rising 2 percent to €881 million ($1 billion). Sales came in at €10.5 billion, driven by blockbuster growth in Asia and the company's baby food division.

"The consumer environment definitely got tougher in Europe, particularly southern Europe, in the first half of this year," said Chairman Franck Riboud.

While sales in Europe account for more than half of the company's revenue, it is expanding rapidly into new markets.

Sales of its Oikos Greek yogurt is booming in the United States, and revenue in Asia grew 26 percent, much of it in the baby food division. Revenue in that division, which rose 15 percent over all, reported growth for all regions, including gaining market share in China.

"In emerging markets, we are continuing to grow at a very brisk pace and are expanding our presence, as we did recently in Morocco and India," Riboud said.

He said that growth and innovation in new markets "allow me to move into the second half with confidence."

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