Swiss food giant Nestle, owner of KitKat and Nespresso, on Thursday posted a 24.4 percent jump in net profit last year, with numbers boosted by the sale of its skincare unit.
Profit rose to 12.6 billion Swiss francs (11.8 billion euros, $12.9 billion). Analysts polled by Swiss agency AWP had expected a net profit of 12.3 billion Swiss francs.
Growth was boosted by the United States — its biggest market — as well as Brazil, Nestle said in a statement, adding that sales in western Europe had also picked up.
But it said there had been a slowdown in China, its second biggest market, although the company said it was “premature” to say what the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak might be.
“In the past few weeks, the spread of the coronavirus has required extraordinary effort from our team in China,” Nestle chief executive Mark Schneider said in a statement.
Schneider said that the company was “working hard to ensure our nutritious food and beverages continue to be widely available, particularly those for the most vulnerable, the youngest and the oldest in society”.
Nestle in October finalised the sale of its skincare business to a group led by Swedish private equity firm EQT and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for 10.2 billion Swiss francs.