July 25, 2019 / 5:42 AM / a month ago

Food group Danone's Q2 sales accelerate as China baby food arm improves

PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) - French food group Danone said sales growth accelerated in the second quarter in all its business lines, beating expectations, and baby food products sales in China were back into positive territory after three quarters of decline.

Danone, which is the world’s largest yoghurt maker and has brands such as Actimel and Activia, reiterated it was confident of delivering its financial targets for 2019 and 2020.

First-half operating profit reached 1.858 billion euros ($2.1 billion), marking a like-for-like rise of 6.4%, which was slightly above a company-compiled median of analyst estimates for 1.847 billion euros in profit.

Second-quarter like-for-like sales, rose 2.5% - above analysts’ expectations for 2.2% growth.

This marked an acceleration from 0.8% growth in the first quarter when sales were hit by weaker demand for infant formula products in China and a consumer boycott in Morocco.

The company is targeting group like-for-like sales growth of around 3% and an operating margin above 15% for 2019.

That in turn would put Danone on track for its 2020 goals of an operating margin above 16% and like-for-like sales growth of 4-5%.

$1 = 0.8981 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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