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French group Danone's third-quarter sales growth slows on China and Morocco woes

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French group Danone's third-quarter sales growth slows on China and Morocco woes

French group Danone's third-quarter sales growth slows on China and Morocco woes
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Pascal Rossignol(Reuters)
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PARIS (Reuters) - Danone <DANO.PA> said sales growth slowed sharply in the third quarter, reflecting falling sales of its infant formula products in China due to challenging year-ago comparables, and due to lost dairy sales stemming from a consumer boycott in Morocco.

Warm weather in Europe, however, lifted sales at its water division while there was a decent performance at its dairy and plant-based business in North America, where Danone is integrating organic food group WhiteWave, and Danone kept its full year financial goals.

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Danone, the world's largest yoghurt maker with brands including Actimel and Activia, said third-quarter sales reached 6.186 billion euros (£5.42 billion), marking a like-for-like sales increase of 1.4 percent - slightly above analysts' forecasts for 1.2 percent growth.

Nevertheless, this marked a sharp slowdown from 3.3 percent growth in the second quarter and 4.9 percent in the first quarter.

Danone, which is targeting an operating margin above 16 percent and like-for-like sales growth of 4-5 percent by 2020, reiterated its expectation for a double-digit rise in 2018 underlying earnings per share (EPS), excluding the impact of the sale of a stake in Japan's Yakult.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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