French dairy products group Danone has reported a 5.5% rise in group like-for-like sales for the third quarter of 2004 compared to the year-ago period.

On a reported basis, third-quarter sales increased by 2.3%. Changes in exchange rates had a negative impact of 2.0% and changes in the scope of consolidation had a negative impact of 1.2%.

For the third quarter, like-for-like sales in the company's fresh dairy products unit climbed 9.5%, while like-for-like sales of beverages edged up 1.3%. Third-quarter like-for-like sales of biscuits and cereal products rose 3.3%, but sales in its other food business declined 3.4% on a like-for-like basis.

The company's European unit achieved like-for-like sales growth of 1.1%, while like-for-like sales in Asia grew 12.6% and those in the rest of the world rose 18.9%.

Danone said the performance of its beverages unit and its European division in the third quarter reflected poor weather conditions in Northern Europe, compared to very high temperatures in the whole of Europe in 2003.

The company said its performance to date reinforced its capacity to reach its targets for the full year 2004, including like-for-like sales growth around +7% and fully diluted current earnings per share growth of +10%.