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Lindt sees profit fall more than a quarter

Net profit for Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli dropped by more than a quarter to SFr193.1 million ($182.2 million) in 2009, the company said on Tuesday.

The company said group sales fell 1.9 per cent to SFr2.525 billion in what it called “extremely difficult” market conditions for premium products.

Organic growth, which measures income adjusted for currency fluctuations among other factors, stood at 2.3 per cent. Earnings before income and taxes fell 26.7 per cent to SFr264.8 million.

The Kilchberg, Zurich-based company, known for its Lindor truffles, said the global chocolate market declined for the first time in a decade.

Lindt had also been hit by record commodity prices, liquidity shortages among distributors and a drop in duty-free customers at airports.

It warned of uncertain commodity markets, particularly related to cocoa prices, which rose 34 per cent in 2009.

Lindt noted its Lindt and Ghirardelli brands were the fastest growing premium brands in the United States.

The company said it was looking to expand in Asia and expected business to improve in the second half of this year.

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