Challenging first-quarter for Nestle

Global food giant Nestle S.A., with North American headquarters in Glendale, reported gains in the first fiscal quarter despite difficulties with supplies in chocolate-producing West Africa and sales in Japan, which was ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami late in the quarter.

Nestle reported revenue growth of 6.4% in the quarter compared to the same period last year. Overall, revenues of 20.2 billion Swiss Francs, or $22.6 billion, are lower than the $24.9 billion for the same period last year, mostly because of the company’s sale of eye-care firm Alcon.

The North American market was “subdued” during the quarter, according to a company statement, with a spike in ice cream prices dampening sales. The Jenny Craig diet chain also underperformed.

The company also reported that frozen food sales, which have been a drag on the company in developed markets in the last few years, have stabilized.

Nestle Chief Executive Paul Bulcke said in a statement that despite continued inflationary pressures on raw goods such as coffee and chocolate, the company expects revenues to grow by 5% to 6% this year.

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