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(Bloomberg) -- Lindt & Spruengli AG, the world’s biggest maker of premium chocolate, said it expects a slowdown in full-year revenue amid a challenging market in North America after first-half earnings missed analysts’ estimates.

Revenue will be slightly lower this year than in 2016, when organic growth was 6 percent, the Kilchberg, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Operating profit advanced 6.7 percent to 105 million francs ($111 million) in the first half. Analysts expected 112.3 million francs. 

The outlook shows while the global chocolate market has shown signs of recovery, North America remains difficult. Lindt has been cleaning out Russell Stover’s line and is introducing fewer seasonal products and sugar-free items like stevia-sweetened chocolate this year. In the U.S., Lindt’s Russell Stover brand’s revamp is taking longer than Lindt expected, weighing on sales.

First-half revenue rose 3.6 percent on an organic basis. Lindt said in March full-year sales growth would be similar to that of 2016. The company has an annual targeted range of 6 percent to 8 percent growth organic sales growth.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corinne Gretler in Zurich at cgretler1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net, Thomas Mulier, Paul Jarvis

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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