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Danone unveils stronger-than expected Q4 sales

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Danone delivered stronger-than-expected sales growth in the last quarter of 2021 amid a challenging environment marked by mounting inflation, and its new chief executive said much remained to be done to turn the company around.

Antoine de Saint-Affrique, who took over as CEO in September, said investors would have to wait until a March 8 Capital Market day to get clues on his strategy and guidance for 2022 and for the mid-term.

Danone, which is the world's largest yoghurt maker, reported 2021 like-for-like sales rose 3.4%, slightly above analysts' estimates in a company-compiled consensus for a 3% rise.

Danone said this reflected an acceleration in the fourth quarter to 6.7% sales growth, above market expectations of 5.5% growth, with all three businesses contributing to growth.

The 2021 operating margin declined by 30 basis points to 13.7% of sales, in line with company's guidance and analysts' expectations of 13.7%.

Consumer goods companies are grappling with surging costs for commodities, energy, transport and labour, prompting rival Unilever earlier this month to warn of a drop in margins as it struggles to lift prices enough to offset the extra expenses.

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