Nestle expects growth to pick up after slow first quarter

ZURICH, April 15 Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:23am EDT

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ZURICH, April 15 (Reuters) - Nestle expects sales growth to pick up in coming quarters after slowing to 4.2 percent in the first quarter hit by still subdued consumer sentiment in Europe, a late Easter and cold weather in North America.

"We confirm our full-year outlook: performance will be weighted to the second half, outperforming the market, with organic growth around 5 percent," the world's biggest food group said in a statement on Tuesday.

The maker of Maggi soups and Nescafe soluble coffee is facing a difficult trading environment, where penny-pinching Europeans often opt for cheaper private label goods and slow emerging markets no longer make up for weak developed markets.

Sales rose to 20.8 billion Swiss francs ($23.66 billion), short of a forecast for 21.46 billion francs in a Reuters poll. They fell 5.1 percent in Swiss francs, hit by the relative strength of the Swiss currency. ($1 = 0.8791 Swiss Francs) (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz)

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