Danone today (6 November) confirmed its full-year guidance for fiscal 2008 and said that while growth would slow in 2009 it still expects to perform ahead of the market.

Speaking at an investor conference in Paris, Emmanuel Faber, co-chief operating officer, said that Danone is on-track for full-year like-for-like sales growth of between 8% and 10%. Fourth-quarter like-for-like sales are expected to grow by 5-6%. Danone also predicted EPS growth of "at least" 15%.

"Despite the current turmoil in world economies, we are fully confident to reach our 2008 full-year targets," Faber said.

Faber also emphasised the company's faith in its mid-term strategic focus.

"In the fast and deep transformation the world is currently going through, we are more confident than ever in the relevance of our mission to "bring health through food to the largest number of people", and to create both social and economic value in the long term," Faber told his audience of investors.

In order to drive growth, Danone said that it would rely on its leading position in most markets where it operates, a strong portfolio of key health and wellness brands and research and development capacities.
Based on these elements, Danone is targeting like-for-like sales growth of 8-10% in the medium term.

While the challenging economic environment is expected to impact the group's fiscal 2009 performance, Faber said that the company anticipates above-market growth.

"As for the short term, Danone operates in a volatile and challenging environment and in a context of a worldwide economic slowdown. Therefore, we can anticipate our markets to grow overall at a slower pace in 2009," Faber said. 

"However, we are convinced that the combination of both our growth drivers and recognised ability to adequately adapt to market developments will enable Danone to deliver above-market growth in each of our categories."

In 2009, Danone said it is targeting like-for-like sales growth a few points below its 8-10% mid-term guidance and double-digit EPS growth. The group also predicted continued improvements to its operating margin.