Company news in brief

21 October 2019 | Sakenuus
Nestle revamps waters business

Food group Nestle plans to return up to 20 billion Swiss francs (US$20.13 billion) to shareholders over the next three years and reorganise its struggling waters business after organic sales growth slowed in the third quarter.

Packaged food makers are branching out into new areas such as plant-based meat alternatives or products made from all natural ingredients to boost growth in an otherwise sluggish market.

Nestle has followed this trend with its vegan Awesome and Incredible burgers and has also, under CEO Mark Schneider, sold its US confectionery and skin health businesses while polishing up big brands including Nescafe.

Its organic growth, which strips out currency swings and acquisitions, dipped to 3.7% in the third quarter from 3.9% in the second as prices for its products fell slightly, the maker of KitKat chocolate bars, Maggi noodles and vegan burgers said in a statement on Thursday.

Nestle confirmed its outlook for organic sales growth of around 3.5% and an operating margin of 17.5% or above for the full year, pointing to strong momentum in the United States and its petcare business. China reported flat growth as infant nutrition slowed and sales at its Yinlu brand fell. – Nampa/Reuters

Barrick misses quarterly gold output estimates

Barrick Gold Corp, fell short of analysts' estimates for third-quarter gold production on Thursday, as lower output at its North Mara mine in Tanzania offset gains from its Randgold buy and the Nevada Gold Mines joint venture.

Operations at the Canadian company's North Mara mine were hit by tax and environmental disputes, and restrictions were lifted in September after Barrick addressed concerns about seepage at the project's tailings storage facility.

North Mara was operated by Acacia Mining and Barrick took full control of the miner after a British court approved its US$1.2 billion takeover.

Barrick gained from its Nevada Gold Mines joint venture with Newmont Goldcorp Corp that the company estimated to have produced 535 000 ounces of gold in the third quarter.

Gold production totaled 1.31 million ounces, lower than the second quarter's 1.35 million ounces, while copper output rose 14.4% to 111 million pounds, the company said.

Gold prices have gained 16% so far this year, as investors sought relief in safe-haven assets amid a prolonged US-China trade war. – Nampa/Reuters

Danone narrows 2019 sales growth goal

French food group Danone said revenue growth accelerated in the third quarter as baby food products sales in China delivered another a strong rise in turnover, offsetting a weaker performance in other areas.

The third quarter performance, however, lagged market expectations and Danone narrowed its sales growth outlook for the 2019 full year while keeping its margin outlook intact.

Finance chief Cecile Cabanis told reporters that in 2019, the group will continue to make progress towards meeting its 2020 financial goals, which she confirmed.

Danone is now targeting 2019 group like-for-like sales growth of 2.5%-3% against a previous forecast of around 3%.

It still expects an operating margin above 15% for 2019, putting it on track for its 2020 goals of an operating margin of above 16% and like-for-like sales growth of 4-5%. – Nampa/Reuters

Renault warns steeper sales drop

France's Renault on Thursday cut its sales guidance for 2019 further and lowered its profitability forecast, as automakers globally struggle with slumping demand in major markets like China and costly shifts to cleaner car models.

Renault, which in July had abandoned a promise to increase revenue before currency effects this year, said 2019 sales were now likely to drop between 3% and 4%.

The group's operating margin was set to come in at 5%, versus a previous 6% goal, Renault said, adding that it was re-assessing its mid-term goals that were part of a 2017-2022 strategic plan, without giving further details.

Renault said its operating free cash flow might not end the year as a whole in positive territory, although it would be in the black in the second half of the year, after coming in at a negative 716 million euros in the first six months of 2019.

Carmakers are facing a broad-based slowdown, and are straining to meet European emissions requirements and to invest in costly new technologies. – Nampa/Reuters

Boeing 737 MAX victims' lawyers to subpoena airlines

Lawyers representing families of passengers killed in a Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia in March are set to issue subpoenas to Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, the two biggest U. operators of the jet, according to documents seen by Reuters.

The lawyers want to know what Boeing Co promised potential airline customers about flight crew training and the 737 MAX certification process, and its communications with the two airlines following a Lion Air crash in Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, and before the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10.

They are seeking documents about 737 MAX software known as MCAS widely linked to both deadly crashes, as well as information on the aircraft's sensors.

The two crashes, both involving 737 MAX jets, killed 346 people and spurred more than 100 lawsuits against the Chicago-based planemaker.

Southwest and American did not immediately comment outside normal business hours. – Nampa/Reuters

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