Swiss confectionery firm Lindt & Sprüngli has said it achieved first-half profitability for the first time in its history.

The company reported net income of CHF4.7m (US$3.7m) for the January to June period, compared to a loss of CHF1.7m in the year-ago period. Like most premium chocolate makers, its business is highly seasonal and gift-oriented, meaning it relies on its second half to boost its full-year performance. Lindt & Sprüngli makes less than 40% of its annual sales during the first half of each year, but at the end of June these sales are charged with around half of the fixed costs of production, administration and marketing.

In the first half of 2005, Lindt & Sprüngli's sales were CHF847.2m, which represents growth of 10.4% in local currencies and 8.9% in Swiss franc terms. The group said it was able to increase its market share in all important markets and segments.
 
However, the company said the European chocolate market overall recorded only low growth - in some countries, growth was actually negative - as the sluggish economy in Europe (particularly in Italy, Germany and France) made for little improvement in consumer sentiment. But the consumer mood in the United States, Canada and Australia largely remains positive, the company said.