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Nestle Modestly Lifts Sales Growth Forecast

GENEVA -- Food and drink giant Nestle modestly raised its forecasts for organic sales growth this year despite posting a 13% drop in sales over the first nine months due to the strong Swiss franc and loss of earnings stemming from the disposal of eyecare company Alcon.

The Vevey, Switzerland-based company said Thursday it had sales of 60.9 billion francs ($67.84 billion) through September, down from 70.4 billion francs ($78.42 billion) during the same period in 2010.

The maker of Nescafe, Jenny Craig and Haagen-Dazs said the results were affected by a sharp rise in the value of the franc and the disposal of its stake in Alcon. Nestle sold its stake in the firm to pharmaceutical company Novartis (NVS) last year for a net profit of some $45 billion.

Discounting the currency and disposal effects, Nestle raised its long-term organic growth outlook based on what it called strong organic growth of 7.3%. That included 13.1% organic growth in emerging markets and 4% in developed markets.

Chief Executive Paul Bulcke said the company now expects to do slightly better than its long-term organic growth range target of 5%-6%, and is focused on developing products that can build market share.

"In spite of raw materials and financial markets, we hope to slightly outperform our organic growth target," said Bulcke, speaking from Paris since France is Nestle's second-biggest market, behind the United States.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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