Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Lindt & Spruengli AG,  the world’s biggest maker of premium chocolate, reported higher first-half earnings as the Swiss franc weakened for the first time in years, boosting the value of sales from abroad.

Operating profit advanced 8.6 percent to 98.4 million francs ($100 million), the Kilchberg, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Friday. Analysts expected 100.5 million francs. Sales rose 4.4 percent on an organic basis, trailing the 5.1 percent consensus, according to Alain Oberhuber, an analyst at MainFirst Bank.

The stronger dollar and euro led to better sales growth in Swiss franc terms than in local currencies, which hasn’t happened since the first half of 2013. The maker of Lindor chocolate balls confirmed its mid-to-long-term organic sales growth forecast of 6 percent to 8 percent.

Sales climbed 6.6 percent to 1.5 billion francs.

In its ambition to overtake Godiva as the world’s biggest retailer of premium chocolate by 2020, Lindt plans to open 65 new stores this year. That will bring the total network to almost 400 stores. Godiva runs more than 450 boutiques.

Lindt said it is currently eliminating some of Russell Stover’s 2,000 products and is raising prices as it’s introduced new ones. The adjustment will impact growth in the short-term, Lindt said. The company became the third-largest chocolate maker in America after its Russell Stover acquisition in 2014.

The maker of chocolate Easter bunnies wrapped in golden foil last month picked finance chief Dieter Weisskopf to become chief executive officer, replacing Ernst Tanner who will focus on his role as chairman. Tanner in March forecast that growth would improve in the second half.

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

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