•  Net profit falls to CHF142.6m
  •  Operating profit up 1%
  •  Net sales climb 11.5%
Barry Callebaut upbeat in face of profit drop

Barry Callebaut upbeat in face of profit drop

Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has reaffirmed its mid-term guidance, depsite booking a drop in full-year profit.

In the 12 months to the end of August, the company reported a net profit of CHF142.6m (US$151.7m), down from CHF178.6m last year. Callebaut blamed the drop on higher financing costs and a less favourable tax mix.

Operating profit in the 12 month period edged up 1% to CHF353.2m, the group reported today (7 November).

Sales were up 11.5% to CHF4.82bn. The company said it made investments in structures, factory expansions and its gourmet business in the period.

"Despite the current, rather difficult economic environment, especially in Western Europe, we remain positive on delivering on our strategy and reaching our targets. Therefore, we have renewed our mid-term guidance of on average 6-8% growth in volume and EBIT until 2014/15," Callebaut said.

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 Accelerated sales, preparing for future growth

Barry Callebaut - Full-year results, fiscal year 2011/12

    Strong volume growth across all Regions: +8.7%, significantly outperforming the market
    Substantial investments affecting bottom-line result: EBIT +1.0%, net profit -5.2% (in local currencies)
    Top-line growth driven by Food Manufacturers Products business, emerging markets and strategic partnerships
    Renewed mid-term guidance[1]: 6-8% volume and EBIT growth until 2014/15
    Proposed payout to shareholders of CHF 15.50 per share, payout ratio of 33%
    Nicolas Jacobs proposed for election as Board member; Stefan Pfander stepping down

Juergen Steinemann, CEO of Barry Callebaut, said: "Barry Callebaut achieved a strong volume growth in the past fiscal year, significantly beating the market. Thanks to an especially vibrant fourth quarter, we were even able to accelerate our pace. Overall business activity remained solid both in developed and emerging markets. We invested significantly in structures, factories, our Gourmet business and "Sustainable Cocoa". These deliberate investments, together with the ramp-up costs associated with various partnership agreements, affected our bottom-line results."

Zurich/Switzerland - November 7, 2012 - In its past fiscal year 2011/12 ended August 31, 2012, Barry Callebaut AG, the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, accelerated its growth pace and achieved strong volume growth in all Regions. Sales volume grew by 8.7% to 1,378,856 tonnes. All Product Groups contributed to this growth. Barry Callebaut's growth was significantly higher than the global chocolate market growth[3]. It was driven by the company's core business, the Food Manufacturers Products business, including long-term partnership agreements. Specialties products and emerging markets also supported growth. Barry Callebaut's Gourmet business considerably outpaced the respective local market growth.

Sales revenue increased 11.5% in local currencies (+8.3% in CHF) to CHF 4,829.5 million. In order to support current and future growth, Barry Callebaut invested significantly in structures, factory expansions, the Gourmet business, ramp-ups related to strategic partnership agreements, and "Sustainable Cocoa". An accelerated demand as well as capacity constraints in some areas resulted in higher operating and supply chain costs. All these factors affected the company's operating profit (EBIT): EBIT increased 1.0% in local currencies (-2.5% in CHF) to CHF 353.2 million. A lower EBIT (in CHF), higher financing costs as well as a less favorable tax mix led to a decrease in net profit from continuing operations (-5.2% in local currencies, -8.5% in CHF) to CHF 241.1 million. Net profit for the year including discontinued operations amounted to CHF 142.6 million, compared to CHF 176.8 million in prior year.

Outlook - Positive on company's performance despite challenging environment
"Despite the current, rather difficult economic environment, especially in Western Europe, we remain positive on delivering on our strategy and reaching our targets. Therefore, we have renewed our mid-term guidance of on average 6-8% growth in volume and EBIT until 2014/15[4]," said Juergen Steinemann on the outlook. "Our main priority for the next fiscal year is to finalize the various investments in capacities and structures. This will create a sound basis for profitable growth. Other priorities are managing our continued growth through long-term partnerships, Gourmet and emerging markets as well as further increasing our operational efficiency with project "Spring" in Western Europe. We also aim to bring additional innovations to the market and further invest in our sustainability initiative "Cocoa Horizons."

Strategic developments / Highlights along the four strategic pillars
Barry Callebaut recently signed long-term agreements with Unilever, Grupo Bimbo (Mexico), Morinaga (Japan) and Arcor (Chile). The company entered into a joint venture with P.T. Comextra to build a new cocoa processing plant in Indonesia. Through capacity expansions at existing factories and the addition of new factories, Barry Callebaut significantly expanded its manufacturing footprint. To further develop its geographic presence in emerging markets, Barry Callebaut announced the construction of a new factory in Turkey last month. Supporting the acceleration of its Gourmet business, the company also acquired Spanish la Morella nuts and the American decorations company Mona Lisa Food Products, Inc. Focusing on business-to-business activities, Barry Callebaut announced its intention to sell its last remaining consumer chocolate factory in Dijon (France) to Chocolaterie de Bourgogne.

Barry Callebaut was the first company to receive a positive Scientific Opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on a health claim on cocoa flavanols in July. The company was able to provide evidence that the intake of a defined amount of cocoa flavanols positively influences blood circulation in the human body. In addition, Barry Callebaut also received awards for two of its recent innovations, the Terra Cacao(TM) chocolate based on the company's patented Controlled Fermentation method, as well as for a special chocolate for a new Magnum® ice cream.

Cost Leadership
Overall manufacturing costs per tonne of activity decreased on a like-for-like basis by 3% (target: -2%). Strong volume growth supported by technology and process improvements increased both capacity utilization for liquid chocolate and the cocoa processing capacity utilization rate.

After the sale of the Consumer Products business, Barry Callebaut started a comprehensive reengineering project called "Spring", mainly focused on Western Europe. The company aims to improve customer service, boost speed-to-market, reduce internal complexities, as well as increase overall efficiency and services to the other Regions.

Sustainable Cocoa
With "Cocoa Horizons", Barry Callebaut started the most comprehensive sustainability program in its history, based on its long-time commitment in this area. The focus is on direct and effective investments in the early stages of the cocoa supply chain. Over the next 10 years, Barry Callebaut will invest CHF 40 million in the most important origin countries. Last year, the company mainly funded training of cocoa farmers in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), as well as in preparing them for certification. In addition, Barry Callebaut started to build a Center of Cocoa Excellence in Côte d'Ivoire and conducted more than 500 Farmer Field Schools during the past fiscal year.

Regional / Segment performance
Region Europe - Strong growth in partly difficult markets
The European chocolate confectionery markets grew by 1.4%. Western Europe slightly decreased (-0.6%) while Eastern Europe recorded attractive, above-average growth at 5.2%, driven by Russia, Turkey and Poland.[5]
Region Europe achieved strong volume growth given the challenging market conditions, especially in Southern Europe: sales volume increased by 6.9% to 688,203 tonnes.
After a slow start, the Food Manufacturers Products business in Western Europe gradually increased sales volume growth with an exceptionally strong fourth quarter. Growth was driven by outsourcing agreements and specialty products, as well as overall market share gains. The Gourmet business showed a good performance in the light of difficult markets in some of the key countries, including Southern Europe. Sales volume at the Beverages division declined slightly due to weather conditions and customer destocking.
In Eastern Europe, both Food Manufacturers Products and the Gourmet & Specialties Products businesses continued to grow at double-digit rates, to which Russia and Poland delivered the biggest contributions.
Overall sales revenue grew by 5.1% in local currencies (+0.2% in CHF) to CHF 2,150.6 million. Ramp-up costs related to outsourcing agreements, higher factory and supply chain costs, and investments in adapting structures as well as Gourmet impacted operating profit (EBIT). It decreased by 1.7% in local currencies (-5.1% in CHF) to CHF 232.2 million.

Region Americas - Continued double-digit growth - top and bottom-line
The U.S. chocolate market decreased by 2.0%, whereas the market in Brazil slowed down its growth pace to +4.7%.5 Barry Callebaut grew significantly faster than the local chocolate markets.
Overall sales volume increased strongly by 15.3% to 361,819 tonnes in Region Americas. Both the Food Manufacturers and Gourmet & Specialties Products businesses continued to grow by double-digits. In North America, Corporate as well as National Accounts showed double-digit growth rates driven by new volumes from outsourcing agreements and market share gains. Barry Callebaut was able to more than double its local volumes with industrial customers in Brazil; the business in Mexico also reported a strong performance, increasing its business volumes double-digit. Our leading imported brands, Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®, contributed significantly to the strong Gourmet growth.
Sales revenue increased by 13.1% in local currencies (+13.5% in CHF) to CHF 1,111.8 million. Operating result outpaced the strong volume and revenue development to a large extent thanks to positive mix effects - particularly supported by the strong performance of the Gourmet business - as well as an overall positive margin development and improved capacity utilization: Operating profit (EBIT) rose by 25.4% in local currencies (+25.6% in CHF) to CHF 90.2 million.

Region Asia-Pacific - High, profitable growth
Chocolate markets in Asia continued their solid growth pace at +5.5%.[6]
In Region Asia-Pacific, Barry Callebaut sustained its double-digit volume growth trajectory of recent years despite some capacity constraints that limited growth opportunities early in the year. Sales volume rose by 10.3% to 57,815 tonnes. The Food Manufacturers Products business increased its sales volume double-digit, particularly driven by strategic partnerships. In the Gourmet business, the company further strengthened its leadership with the global Gourmet brands Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®.
On the basis of lower average raw material prices compared to last year, sales revenue rose by 4.1% in local currencies (+4.7% in CHF) to CHF 232.4 million. Operating profit (EBIT) outpaced volume growth with a strong growth of 20.9% in local currencies (+19.3% in CHF) to CHF 29.7 million, partly as a result of increased capacity utilization and partly from positive margin developments.

Global Sourcing & Cocoa[7] - Investments in future growth
After continuously moving downward until the end of 2011, cocoa prices were range-bound between GBP 1,400 and 1,600 per tonne. Dry weather in Africa and uncertainties about the next main crop as well as the cocoa reform in Côte d'Ivoire put some slight upside pressure on prices end of July.
Prices on the world sugar market corrected significantly downwards whereas EU sugar prices stayed at historically high levels. Milk powder prices initially declined, followed by a strong surge due to the drought in the U.S. Milk powder prices closed at the rather high previous year's level.

Capacity expansions at existing factories and higher internal cocoa powder demand impacted Global Sourcing & Cocoa's growth in the first half. Early 2012, external demand started to pick up, driven by Barry Callebaut's strategic partners. Overall sales volume rose by 4.7% to 271,019 tonnes. The segment reported continued strong revenue growth: Sales revenue increased by 23.8% in local currencies (+20.1% in CHF) to CHF 1,334.7 million due to high cocoa powder prices at the time the business was contracted.
After an initial downward correction, the combined cocoa ratio increased later in the year; overall, it had a neutral effect on Barry Callebaut's profitability. In addition, the positive volume growth was unable to fully offset increased costs from the ramp-up of strategic partnership agreements including related supply chain and logistic costs as well as from investments in sustainability. Consequently, operating profit (EBIT) declined by 8.9% in local currencies
(-15.7% in CHF) to CHF 65.2 million.

Proposals to the Annual General Meeting
Payout to shareholders
The Board of Directors will propose a payout to shareholders of CHF 15.50 per share (same as 2011), representing a payout ratio of 33% (versus net profit from continuing operations), at the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders on December 5, 2012. The payout will partly consist of a dividend payment from reserves from capital contributions and partly of a capital reduction through par value repayment. The redistribution of these funds to shareholders will not be subject to withholding tax and - for individuals residing in Switzerland and holding the shares as private property - income tax. The payout to shareholders will be executed as of March 4, 2013, subject to approval by the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders and the necessary statutory actions.

Board of Directors
All current members of the Board of Directors will stand for re-election for another term of office of one year except for Stefan Pfander. He will step down from the Board at the Annual General Meeting 2012 after serving for seven years. The Board of Directors chaired by Andreas Jacobs expresses its gratitude to Mr. Pfander (1943) for his valuable contributions to the company's development.
The Board of Directors will propose at the Annual General Meeting that Nicolas Jacobs (1982) be elected as a new member of the Board of Directors. This also reflects the commitment of the majority shareholder, the Jacobs family, to support Barry Callebaut in its further growth. Mr. Jacobs currently holds the position of Senior Director for Global M&A and Development at Burger King Corporation. He has also been a Board Member of Jacobs AG since 2008. Nicolas Jacobs is a significant shareholder of Barry Callebaut AG.

Original source: Barry Callebaut