Nestlé CEO on missed target: ‘Usain Bolt doesn’t always run 100 metres in the same time either’

By Caroline SCOTT-THOMAS contact

- Last updated on GMT

Developed markets continued to face headwinds during the first nine months, Nestlé said
Developed markets continued to face headwinds during the first nine months, Nestlé said

Related tags: United states dollar, Switzerland

Nestlé’s share price fell 2.9% in early trading this morning as nine-month sales growth missed objectives.

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.”

Currency exchange

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.

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