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Lindt Raises Margin-Growth Forecast on North America Gain

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Lindt & Spruengli AG, the world’s largest maker of premium chocolate, raised its profitability forecast after a revival of North American economic growth helped first-half earnings beat analyst estimates.

The operating-margin increase this year will be near the upper end of a targeted 0.2 percentage-point to 0.4 percentage-point range, the Kilchberg, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today. Lindt stock rose as much as 2.8 percent to the highest price in almost five months.

First-half net income surged 40 percent to 48.8 million Swiss francs ($53 million), exceeding the 44.3 million-franc average of five analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The sales gain excluding currency effects was 8.7 percent, led by 13 percent growth in North America, the world’s largest chocolate market. Lindt reiterated a forecast that revenue on that basis will increase 6 percent to 8 percent this year.

“Strong results on all levels,” Jean-Philippe Bertschy, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, wrote in a report to investors, adding that a new share-buyback program is probably planned.

Lindt gained to as high as 43,400 francs, the highest intraday price since March 28, and was trading up 2.6 percent at 9:34 a.m. in Zurich. The stock has increased 27 percent this year, valuing the chocolate maker at 9.31 billion francs.

“The global economy reported a slight improvement, which had a positive impact on consumer sentiment in many countries,” Lindt said. “In parallel, the pressure of several foreign currencies on the Swiss franc decreased somewhat.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Mulier in Geneva at tmulier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Risser at drisser@bloomberg.net; Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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