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Nestlé starts year by (slightly) exceeding expectations

First quarter with sales up 5.6%

First quarter 2023 "slightly better than expected" for Nestlé, thanks to price increases that offset weakness in sales volumes. The Swiss company said sales rose 5.6% to 23.5 billion Swiss francs or more than 24.01 billion Euros in the quarter ended March 31, beating analysts' consensus average estimates of 23.27 billion francs. Organic growth reached 9.3 percent, with broad contributions across all geographies and categories: prices came in at 9.8 percent, "reflecting significant cost inflation", the company stressed. The outlook for the full year 2023 is confirmed: "We forecast -the company says in a note- organic sales growth between 6 percent and 8 percent and a trading operating profit margin between 17% and 17.5%. Earnings per share in constant currency should increase between 6% and 10%".

A performance, that of the quarter, was, therefore, more the result of price growth than sales growth: prices, we said, rose 9.8% in the quarter, but sales volumes fell 0.5%. And this even though, overall, sales of confectionery and pet food were a strength, with volumes rising in both categories, albeit down from a year ago. Nestle shares rose 1.5% to one-year highs in trading on Tuesday, April 25. Analysts and investors called the results "a strong start to the year". 

"Nestle delivered strong organic growth in the first quarter, thanks to the diligent work of our teams to protect volumes and ensure a resilient mix -explained Mark Schneider, Nestle's ceo-. Portfolio optimization efforts and responsible pricing helped offset pressures from two years of cost inflation".

"We continued our portfolio management path with the creation of a joint venture dedicated to the frozen pizza business in Europe -Schneider added, referring to the recent agreement with the Pai fund-. The new partnership provides the best platform to develop the full potential of this business".

Geographically, North America gave the biggest boost to sales recording over 6.4 billion euros at the end of the first quarter (+11.6% year on year), Europe is in second place with over 4.9 billion (+9.7%), Asia-Oceania-Africa at 4.7 billion (+10.4%) , Latin America 3 milliard (+12.8%), China with 1.3 billion rises 3.1%.

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EFA News - European Food Agency