Swiss multinational Nestlé has reported a robust set of figures for the first nine months of 2005 with organic sales up 5.8%.

The maker of KitKat chocolate and Purina petfood attributed this sales rise to real internal growth of 3.8% and price increases of 2%. Sales in the third quarter soared 9.1% on the strength of the US dollar and a surge in US and Asian demand, rising to SFr24.2bn (US$18.7bn) from SFr22.2bn. Analysts had been expecting SFr23.5bn, according to the median estimate of eight analysts surveyed by financial news and information company Bloomberg.

Nestlé said that its core food and beverage business in the first nine months accelerated to real internal growth of 3.5% and organic growth of 5.6%, while reported sales in Swiss francs up 4.8% to SFr67.7bn. Savings programmes were being implemented as forecast and played a key role in compensating for the ongoing rise in raw material costs.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman and CEO of Nestlé: “The acceleration in our core food and beverage operations was broad-based and, together with the excellent performance of Alcon, allows me to reconfirm that we will deliver 5-6% organic growth for 2005, combined with a sustainable improvement of the EBITA margin in constant currencies. We can also announce a new share buy-back programme, subject to Board approval.”

The company confirmed it expects to achieve its target of between 5 and 6% organic growth for 2005 as a whole, combined with an improvement in constant currency margins.