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Lindt confirms 2019 outlook after business improves in the U.S

Lindt confirms 2019 outlook after business improves in the U.S
FILE PHOTO: Products and the company's logo are displayed as journalists attend the annual news conference of Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Spruengli in Kilchberg, Switzerland March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann Copyright ARND WIEGMANN(Reuters)
Copyright ARND WIEGMANN(Reuters)
By Reuters
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli <LISP.S> on Tuesday confirmed it expects organic sales growth of 5-7% in 2019 after an improving situation in the United States supported profit and sales growth in the first half of 2019.

Chocolate makers have been facing sluggish demand in saturated western markets, but Lindt's focus on faster-growing premium products, its own branded store network and a push into new markets has allowed it to buck that trend.

"The situation in the U.S., the world’s largest chocolate market, improved and the trading environment recovered slightly after several difficult years of restructuring," said the company based in Kilchberg, on the shores of Lake Zurich.

The Russell Stover business Lindt bought in 2014 achieved a sales plus for the first time in years and the group's U.S. unit overall reported "a sound results and market share gains following challenging previous periods", the maker of Lindor chocolate balls and gold foil-wrapped Easter bunnies said in a statement.

Group net profit rose 2.4% to 88.1 million Swiss francs ( £72 million ), while organic sales increased by 6.2% to 1.76 billion francs, Lindt said.

The group confirmed it expected full-year sales growth this year to be within its target range of 5-7% and an operating margin improvement of 20-40 basis points.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Thomas Seythal)

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