Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Barry Callebaut AG, the maker of a quarter of the world’s chocolate, reported first-half profit that beat analyst estimates as it phased out less lucrative contracts.

Earnings before interest and taxes dropped 8.4 percent to 201 million Swiss francs ($210 million) in the six months through February, weighed down by the currency’s strength, the Zurich-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Analysts expected 191 million francs, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Barry Callebaut has predicted a tough year. After El Nino, the weather pattern that threatens crops from Ecuador to Indonesia, there is a 50 percent chance that La Nina will move in this year, which caused prices of agricultural products like sugar to rally the last time it occurred in mid-2010, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Duncan Fox.

“The year will remain challenging from a profitability point of view due to the current cocoa products market,” Chief Executive Officer Antoine de Saint-Affrique said in the statement.

Volume rose 4.5 percent. Revenue climbed 12 percent in local currencies, reaching 3.42 billion francs, beating the 3.36 billion-franc analyst estimate.

The company reiterated its forecast for volume to grow 4 percent to 6 percent per year on average of the the three years through August 2018, with faster Ebit growth in local currencies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Matthew Boyle at mboyle20@bloomberg.net, Thomas Mulier, Phil Serafino

©2016 Bloomberg L.P.

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