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Danone posts higher H1 earnings YOY; Q2 sales decline 4.4%

French packaged foods producer Danone reported net income group share of €1.20 billion, or €1.87 per share, in the first half of 2018, up from €975 million, or €1.57 per share, in the year-ago period.

Recurring net income increased 8.2% year over year to €1.13 billion from €1.05 billion. Recurring EPS increased to €1.76 from €1.68 in the year-ago half and was just above S&P Capital IQ's consensus normalized EPS estimate of €1.75.

The company reported an operating income of €1.09 billion, down 31.2% from €1.58 billion in the prior-year period. The operating margin dropped to 8.71% from 12.98%.

Sales were up 2.4% to €12.50 billion in the first half from €12.20 billion in the year-ago period. Sales were up 4.0% on a like-for-like new Danone basis, which reflects the combined organic performance of Danone and WhiteWave Foods Co., acquired by the company in 2017.

In the second quarter, reported sales decreased 4.4% to €6.41 billion from €6.71 billion in the year-ago quarter. Like-for-like new Danone sales were up 3.3% year over year as sales were up 10.6% in the specialized nutrition business, by 4.8% in the waters business and by 1.4% in essential dairy and plant-based Noram. Essential dairy and plant-based international's sales were down 2.4% from the year-ago quarter.

Danone said it is targeting double-digit recurring EPS growth at constant exchange rates for 2018, excluding the impact of the sale of most of its stake in Japanese probiotics maker Yakult.