Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has reported better-than-expected full-year operating profit, but said it remains cautious about the European market.

The company, which makes industrial chocolate, reported operating income of CHF208.7m (US$152.9m) for its 2002/03 business year, a rise of 20.5% year-on-year, reported Reuters.

Barry Callebaut's net profit rose 1.6%, excluding a one-off charge, to CHF103.2m. Sales rose 36.2% to CHF3.57bn, a rise of 41.6% excluding foreign currency shifts.

Chief executive Patrick De Maeseneire said he was more positive about the US market but more cautious about Europe.

"Past results, our current order book and the innovations under way clearly prove, however, that Barry Callebaut is well positioned and capable of generating growth in both of its business segments even under difficult conditions," De Maeseneire was quoted by Reuters as saying. 

Barry Callebaut said the integration of German chocolate maker Stollwerck was continuing as planned, and is on course for completion by mid-2004.