Nestle is prepared for a "good fight" with Coca Cola in the bottled water arena. Speaking at the company's results news conference yesterday, Nestle Waters chairman Frits van Dijk said: We are well-prepared; we know their strengths and weaknesses, and I am sure we will be able to give them a good fight."

Coca Cola's Dasani brand grew by 16% last year, while Nestle Waters' brands, including Perrier and Vittel, increased by 9.1% in 2003. Dasani is now the second-biggest selling water in the US.

"Them (Coca Cola) entering the market is very good; it will contribute to the total growth of the market," van Dijk added.

Nestle announced yesterday that it had met its own targets for 2003, with a 5.1% increase in underlying sales. Net profit dropped by 18% to 6.21 billion Swiss francs (US$5 billion), but this was due mainly to a one-off boost in 2002 from the partial spin-off of eyecare unit Alcon.