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(Bloomberg) -- Lindt & Spruengli AG reported full-year profit slightly below analysts’ estimates as the North American market shrank and the world’s biggest maker of premium chocolate streamlined the portfolio of its U.S. brand Russell Stover.
Earnings before interest and tax rose 8.4 percent to 562.5 million francs ($556 million), the Kilchberg, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts expected 565.3 million francs. Lindt said it’s raising its dividend 10 percent to 880 francs per registered share.
The maker of Lindor chocolate balls continued a clean-up of Russell Stover’s portfolio of more than 2,000 products last year, while the American chocolate market declined for the first time in years. Lindt Chairman Ernst Tanner said in July that new, less-seasonal Russell Stover products introduced in the fourth quarter would boost revenue.
The company said it expects sales growth in 2017 to be in line with the previous year, when revenue rose 6 percent on an organic basis, and further operating margin improvement. Lindt confirmed its long-term target for annual organic sales growth of 6 percent to 8 percent, with its operating profit margin widening 20 to 40 basis points.
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