Mondelez forecasts 2020 earnings growth, beats third-quarter results

(Reuters) - Mondelez International Inc MDLZ.O on Monday forecast 2020 earnings to grow more than 5% and reported better-than-expected quarterly results as consumers avoided stepping out and stocked candies and cookies at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cadbury chocolate is seen in this picture illustration taken July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/Files

Known for Oreo cookies and Cadbury chocolates, Mondelez said it was planning to reinstate its share buyback program in the fourth quarter, as business was performing well.

Sales rebounded in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe as stores reopened after long lockdowns and consumers working or attending classes at home bought more chocolates and biscuits.

“We do not expect a repeat of the disruption that we saw at the beginning of the crisis ... continue to see those (emerging) markets recuperating with bumps,” Chief Executive Officer Dirk Van de Put said.

Consumers were snacking more at home than they did before the pandemic, but not as much as in March and April, when the first round of lockdowns began, he added.

“Seeing where we are with (COVID-19) and the fact that we probably will get more recommendations to stay at home, we expect this elevated consumption to continue for a while,” Van de Put said, as a second round of lockdowns begin in parts of Europe to curb the rising cases.

In Europe, sales from convenience stores had improved, but travel retail and on-the-go purchases, a big part of sales in the region, continued to struggle.

The company forecast organic net revenue growth, which strips out the impact of currency and acquisitions, of 3.5% for 2020. For the third quarter, it rose 4.4%.

Net revenue rose about 5% to $6.67 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, beating estimates of $6.49 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 63 cents per share, a cent more than expectations.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Vinay Dwivedi