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Lindt Profit Misses Estimates on Chocolate Demand

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March 15 (Bloomberg) -- Lindt & Spruengli AG, the world’s largest maker of premium chocolate, reported 2012 profit that missed analysts’ estimates as most chocolate markets stagnated.

Net income rose 12 percent to 271.9 million francs ($287 million) in 2012, the Kilchberg, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today. That missed the 277 million-franc average estimate of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The chocolate maker proposed to increase the dividend 15 percent to 575 francs per registered share.

Lindt said it expects a “difficult economic environment” in 2013 as rising unemployment weighs on consumer spending, especially in southern Europe, though the company is “well-placed to face the coming challenges.”

The company said it expects to meet its long-term goals for sales and profitability this year after it outperformed rivals in markets that were mostly unchanged or declined “slightly.” The long-term targets are annual organic sales growth of 6 percent to 8 percent, with an improvement of the operating profit margin of 0.2 to 0.4 percentage points.

“Not only the key markets in Europe and North America, but also the new emerging markets in Russia, Asia and South America will play a role,” Lindt said. The Swiss chocolatier also said there are “some signs” the Swiss franc is weakening, which may boost exports.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janice Kew in Johannesburg at jkew4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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