ZURICH Sales growth at foods giant Nestle NESN.VX eased to 6.1 percent in the first nine months of the year, just missing forecasts as consumers in Europe and North America continued to watch their spending and demand in emerging markets also slowed.
Underlying sales growth at the maker of KitKat chocolate bars and Maggi soup was down from 6.6 percent in the first half, with sales growth in Asia, Oceania and Africa slowing to 9.4 percent from 11.6 percent.
"Interestingly, growth in the developed markets was stable at roughly 2 percent, but growth deceleration came from the emerging markets, from nearly 13 percent in the second quarter to less than 10 percent in the third quarter," Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy said.
However, according to slides for a investor presentation, Nestle said the third quarter was impacted by unspecified one-off effects, which meant it was not a good pointer to its likely performance in the fourth quarter.
The world's biggest food group confirmed its conservative outlook of 5-6 percent underlying sales growth this year and said it saw input cost pressures easing somewhat.
"The confirmed outlook is no surprise. Nestle seems to show ongoing resilience in western Europe, outperforming Danone," Bertschy said.
French food group Danone (DANO.PA) said on Wednesday growth slowed sharply at its dairy division as recession-pinched shoppers in Italy and Spain switched to cheaper alternatives.
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)