Sales slipped 3.1% to CHF 66.2bn compared to CHF 68.35bn in the same period last year. Underlying organic growth – which disregards acquisitions and currency fluctuations – slowed to 4.5% for the first nine months of 2014, but the company kept its full-year objective of around 5% growth.
‘Like Usain Bolt’
CEO Paul Bulcke said at a meeting of investors: “We are aiming at around 5%. We are 4.5 year-to-date.”
He admitted that this left the company with some work to do to achieve its objective in the final quarter, but added: “It is always the same question: Is it 4.1 or 4.5 or 5? I don’t really care. It’s like Usain Bolt when he runs the 100 metres; he doesn’t always run it in the same time either.”
Sales were hit by poor currency exchange rates, as the high value of the Swiss franc cut 7.5% off sales value in the first nine months of the year. The company does not provide earnings figures for the nine-month period.
Bulcke said in a statement: “In a volatile global trading environment where there are no tailwinds, we achieved good broad-based growth.”
Sales growth was weakest in Europe, at 1.4%, and strongest in Asia, Oceania and Africa, at 6.5%. Developed markets saw 0.5% growth, while emerging markets grew 9.5%, the company said.
The overall 4.5% organic growth consisted of 2.2% pricing and 2.3% real internal growth.