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Danone Warns of Tough Start to Year

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Danone said on Thursday 2021 would be a year of recovery with a return to profitable growth in the second half following a tough first quarter and after the coronavirus crisis hit the French food groups 2020 sales and profits.

Chairman and Chief Executive Emmanuel Faber, who is under growing pressure as activist shareholders push for management changes to lift returns, said Danones share price which is at sevenyear lows is not where we would like it to be.

He added that he was open to dialogue with investors. There was, however, no word on governance changes.

Danone said its 2021 recurring operating margin would be broadly in line with the 14 of sales achieved in 2020, although it warned that the first quarter would still be tough due to unfavourable comparables in particular on its Specialised Nutrition operations in China.

The worlds largest yoghurt maker also said it would slash its 2020 dividend by 8 to 1.94 euros per share, to reflect weaker earnings.

We are focused on preparing our return to sales growth as soon as the second quarter and fully confident that we are building the right conditions and momentum to reconnect with our profitable growth as soon as H2, Faber said in a statement.

Danone made the forecast after it reported 2020 likeforlike sales fell 1.5, which was slightly better than analysts estimates in a companycompiled consensus for a 1.6 decline.

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