Dutch food and nutrition group Numico has said its third-quarter net sales grew 9.7% on a comparable basis, helped by growth in clinical nutrition and baby foods.

Net sales from continued business rose to €427m (US$549.0m) for the third quarter of 2004, compared to €392m a year earlier. Total net sales fell to €430m from €771m in the year-ago period. The company said its net result for the third quarter was a profit of €44m, compared to a year-ago loss of €457m.

"Importantly, Baby Food achieved a record growth rate of 9%, driven by strong performance in Western Europe (+6%), as well as continued strong performance outside Western Europe (+12%). Clinical Nutrition reported its third consecutive period of double-digit growth at 11.1%, fuelled by growth in all geographies and segments, with notable results in Southern Europe and disease-specific products," said Numico.

"We are also very pleased that our operations efficiency programmes are delivering on target and without delays and that, in both divisions, key innovations are in launch phase. With these results, we feel comfortable that we will end at the top of our net sales target range for the year of 7-9%, despite challenging comparables in the fourth quarter for Baby Food. We also reconfirm our EBITA growth target of 10% for the year," the company added.