Swiss food group Nestlé has posted a fall in first-half net profit, hurt by a strong comparison figure for the year-ago period, but said organic sales growth was better than expected at 5.5%.


Nestlé posted first-half net profit of CHF2.78bn (US$2.0bn), down 51% from a year earlier. Last year’s figure was boosted by a CHF3.9bn capital gain from the partial float of its eye-care unit, Alcon.


Sales fell 6.3% to CHF41.4bn, although in constant currency terms sales rose 6.3%. Nestlé said sales of coffee, chilled culinary food and water were showing progress, although this was partly offset by weaker sales of chocolate and confectionery, reported Reuters.


The company’s operating income was CHF5.05bn, compared with CHF5.28bn a year earlier.


“The group is confident that the higher margins and cash flow are not one-off events, but indicate a trend, and that an organic growth between five and six percent is sustainable for the year,” chief executive Peter Brabeck was quoted by Reuters as saying. Organic sales growth strips out the effects of acquisitions and currency fluctuations.