Danone Waters posted an increase in like-for-like sales for the third quarter and said it remains confident about next year.

Sales in the division increased 4.6% for the period. The performance was driven by volume growth of 9.8% which was offset by a negative value (mainly country mix) effect of -5.2%. 

Volume growth continued to be entirely driven by the emerging markets - 52% of the sales of the division - with particularly strong performances in Indonesia, Mexico and Argentina. 

While the performance of Spain and Japan remained weak, the volume growth of France, the UK, and Germany rebounded after having witnessed several quarters of declining performance, the company said.

Consolidated reported sales for the group decreased by -2.1% to EUR11.30bn (US$16.96bn) in the first nine months of 2009, compared to the same period last year.

However, excluding the effects of changes in exchange rates (-3.2%) and in scope of consolidation (-1.3%), total sales increased by 2.4% on a like-for-like basis.

The like-for-like sales growth was driven by a 3.9% rise in volume, which offset a -1.5% decline in value. 

Commenting on the results, Franck Riboud, chairman and CEO, said: "The operational adjustments we have been implementing since the start of the year are translating into an accelerated growth of our volumes and sales. We made the right decision and have been very efficient and fast in implementing it: we will have accomplished the repositioning of our products before year-end."

The company reiterated its 2009 targets and said it will continue to prepare 2010 with "confidence and determination".

Based on Danone's nine months performance, the company said it expects to deliver like-for-like sales growth close to 4% in the second half of 2009, a like-for-like improvement of the trading operating (EBIT) margin between 60 and 70 bps for the full-year and a 10% growth of its underlying fully-diluted earnings per share for the full-year.

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