* FY net profit 411 mln Sfr, sales 4.26 bln, beats poll
* Raises dividend to 36 Sfr per share vs 26.1 Sfr in poll
* Raw material costs seen rising 1-3 pct in 2013
* Shares up 4 pct, outperform sector index
By Silke Koltrowitz
ZURICH, Feb 5 Givaudan, the world's
biggest fragrance and flavour maker, said growing Latin American
appetite for the snacks and beverages it flavours will drive
more growth this year after pushing 2012 results above
Latin America was the group's fastest growing region in
2012, with sales up 13 percent in local-currency terms, driven
by Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, Givaudan said.
"We expect (sales) trends to continue in the same way seen
last year," Chief Executive Gilles Andrier said in an interview.
"The engine of emerging markets is quite strong for us."
"It is not only China and India, but also other markets like
Mexico, Brazil, the Middle East, eastern Europe, Turkey and
southeast Asia," Andrier said. "We grow five times faster in
these markets than in mature markets."
Emerging markets accounted for 44 percent of Givaudan's
sales of 4.26 billion Swiss francs ($4.69 billion) in 2012 and
are set to make up 50 percent by 2015 as ever more consumers
afford packaged foods, drinks and personal care products.
Demand for the group's fine fragrances that go into Dior and
Prada perfumes also rebounded in the fourth quarter as retailers
in Europe and emerging markets restocked, the group said.
Sales grew 6.6 percent in local currencies, with Asia
Pacific up 4.4 percent, North America up 4.1 percent and Europe,
Africa and the Middle East up 3.6 percent.
An improved operating performance, lower financial expenses
and a lower income tax rate helped net profit rise more than
expected to 411 million Swiss francs ($452 million) from 252
million a year earlier, Givaudan said.
Its shares, which trade in line with peers Symrise
and International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) at just
over 16 times estimated 2014 earnings, rose 4 percent by 1050
GMT, outperforming a flat European chemicals index.
Kepler Capital Markets analyst Bettina Edmondston said
Givaudan deserved a premium in the sector due to its
market-leading position and attractive dividend yield.
The group, which bought fragrance and flavour maker Quest in
2007, achieved a target of pushing its leverage ratio - net debt
divided by net debt plus equity - below 25 percent and
consequently raised its dividend to 36 francs, up 64 percent
from 2011 and higher than the 26.1 francs expected by analysts.
The group is returning 65 percent of a 2012 free cash flow
of 512 million francs to shareholders, fulfilling a promise, and
vowed to keep a payout ratio of over 60 percent.
"That means we still have 40 percent for bolt-on
acquisitions," Andrier said, adding that he didn't rule out a
larger purchase if it created value and sales synergies.
Givaudan, which has been struggling to restore profitability
after stocking up on raw materials at the peak of the market in
2011, improved its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation
and amortisation (EBITDA) to 20.4 percent of sales, up from 19.4
percent in the previous year, despite additional pension costs
and expenses for a new factory in Hungary.
Costs for raw materials, such as citrus oils and crude
oil-related products, are expected to rise by between 1 and 3
percent to 1.5-1.6 billion francs in 2013, Andrier said.
"We mitigate that through price increases so that should not
have a substantial impact on our profitability," he said.
Givaudan also confirmed a mid-term goal to outgrow its peers
with organic sales growth of up to 5.5 percent per year against
2-3 percent for the market.
IFF will release full-year results on Thursday, while
Symrise is due to report on March 12.