Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Sprüngli says that sales growth in 2005 far outstripped the overall market rate, leading to record results.
Sales revenue went up by 12.6 per cent to SFr2.25 billion ($1.89 billion) and net income rose to SFr172.7 million.
The results are potentially music to the ears of investors – the company's board is proposing a dividend of SFr225 per registered share and SFr22.50 for each participation certificate. The figures will be discussed on April 20 at a general meeting.
The firm said in a statement that, despite rising costs for transport, energy and raw materials, efficient management and price increases helped it offset any resulting negative effects.
Consequently, earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) increased by 15.2 per cent to SFr248.6 million.
Greatest growth was seen in the United States, where sales grew by nearly 20 per cent to SFr336.7 million.
In Switzerland, revenues increased slightly to SFr236 million.
The company, which is based near Zurich, opened two new subsidiaries in Mexico and Sweden last year as part of its expansion strategy.
By establishing its own marketing organisations in potentially strong new markets, the firm said that it could serve "a growing number of important markets under its own management".
The company had already filed record results for 2004, after focusing on the premium chocolate market.
In January, Chocosuisse, the Union of Swiss Chocolate Makers looked back on 2005, saying it was a good year for the industry in general. However, the chocolate produced by Swiss manufacturers was more popular abroad than in Switzerland, where the market is saturated.
The Swiss originally learned chocolate making from the Italians, but pioneered mass production methods to become world leaders themselves.
The first chocolate factory in Switzerland was opened by François-Louis Cailler in 1819 near Vevey, and is still working today.
The Swiss can claim credit for inventing numerous production techniques from the cocoa-sugar mixer (Phillipe Suchard), to the conch (Rodolphe Lindt), which makes chocolate smooth.
They were also the first to make milk chocolate, and to include nuts and fillings.
Lindt and Sprüngli was founded by Rodolphe Lindt in 1845. The company was bought by Johann Rudolph Sprüngli in 1899.
Financial results for 2005:
Consolidated sales - SFr2.247 billion (+12.6 per cent)
Ebit - SFr248.6 million (+15.2 per cent)
Net income - SFr172.7 million (+15.9 per cent)
Dividend - SFr225 per registered share (previous year SFr180)
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