- Organic growth of 3.5%, with real internal growth (RIG) of 2.9% and a pricing of 0.6%. Growth was supported by strong momentum in the United States and Purina PetCare globally.
- Total reported sales increased by 1.2% to CHF 92.6 billion (2018: CHF 91.4 billion). Net acquisitions had a negative impact of 0.8% and foreign exchange reduced sales by 1.5%.
- One year ahead of Nestlé’s medium-term plan, the company reached its 2020 profitability target range. The underlying trading operating profit (UTOP) margin increased by 60 basis points to 17.6%. The trading operating profit (TOP) margin decreased by 30 basis points to 14.8% due to increased restructuring and related expenses.
- Underlying earnings per share increased by 11.1% in constant currency and by 9.8% on a reported basis to CHF 4.41. Earnings per share increased by 28.0% to CHF 4.30 on a reported basis.
- Free cash flow increased by 10.9% to CHF 11.9 billion.
- Board proposes a dividend increase of 25 centimes to CHF 2.70 per share, marking 25 consecutive years of dividend growth. In total, CHF 16.9 billion was returned to shareholders in 2019 through a combination of dividends and share buybacks. At the end of 2019, Nestlé completed the CHF 20 billion share buyback program initiated in July 2017. It started a new share buyback program of up to CHF 20 billion in January 2020.
- Nestlé divested Nestlé Skin Health in 2019 and announced the sale of its U.S. ice cream business for USD 4 billion to Froneri (transaction closed January 31, 2020). Nestlé also agreed to sell a 60% stake in its Herta charcuterie (cold cuts and meat-based products) business to Casa Tarradellas. Portfolio rotation over the past three years amounts to 12% of total 2017 sales.
- 2020 Outlook: continued increase in organic sales growth, expecting a further acceleration in 2021/2022 towards sustainable mid-single-digit growth. The underlying trading operating profit margin with continued improvement. Underlying earnings per share in constant currency and capital efficiency expected to increase. It is too early to quantify the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak at this time.
Mark Schneider, Nestlé CEO, commented: “We saw strong progress in 2019, with key operating and financial metrics improving significantly for the second consecutive year. Organic growth accelerated, fueled by strong momentum in the United States and Purina PetCare globally. Profitability improved again and reached our guided range one year ahead of the plan. Cash flow was strong while underlying earnings per share and returns to shareholders reached record levels. In 2020, we expect continued organic sales growth improvement as we take further steps to decisively address underperforming businesses.
In 2019, we made significant progress in our portfolio transformation. We did what we said we would do and more. We are not done yet. We will respond to rapid changes in the industry and fast-evolving consumer preferences to position our portfolio for higher growth.
Nestlé will continue to focus on fast innovation. The launch of our premium Starbucks products, for example, has been a great success. We are very pleased with the speed of the product rollout and the positive response by consumers. The company is fully embracing the need for speed, as the rapid expansion of our new plant-based food and beverage offerings has shown. We are getting to market faster with must-have products.
Our shareholders are seeing reliable, sustainable and increasing cash returns even in turbulent times. A key driver is our sustainable dividend practice. We are proud to propose the 25th consecutive annual dividend increase to our shareholders this year.
We have also reaffirmed our sustainability leadership at a time when society is increasingly looking to business for solutions to the major environmental problems we are facing. In addition, we have made significant progress in making our work even more diverse and inclusive. New initiatives, such as our enhanced parental leave policy, reaffirm Nestlé’s status as an employer of choice around the world.
In the past few weeks, the spread of the coronavirus has required extraordinary effort from our team in China. We have focused on ensuring the safety of our people and their families and introducing protective measures for all our facilities. We are working closely with the Chinese authorities as they take measures to contain this epidemic, building on our significant experience and expertise on the ground. Our immediate thoughts are with the people directly impacted by this global health emergency. We stand in solidarity with the Chinese people and are working hard to ensure our nutritious food and beverages continue to be widely available, particularly those for the most vulnerable, the youngest and the oldest in society. The Greater China region is our second-largest market, representing about 8% of global sales. It is too early to quantify the financial impact of this outbreak at the present time.”
Organic growth reached 3.5% in 2019, fully in line with our guidance. RIG accelerated to 2.9% for the full year, the highest level in the last six years. Growth was supported in particular by innovation and portfolio management. Pricing contributed 0.6% and returned to positive territory in the fourth quarter.
Year-on-year organic growth acceleration was supported by strong growth in the United States and Brazil, as well as improved momentum in Western Europe. Our Zone AOA saw solid growth despite softness in some categories in China and Pakistan. Organic growth accelerated to 2.6% in developed markets and remained largely unchanged in emerging markets at 4.7%.
All product categories saw positive organic growth. The largest contribution came from Purina PetCare and its premium brands Purina Pro Plan and Purina ONE. Coffee had good momentum, helped by strong demand for Starbucks products, which by now have been rolled out in more than 40 countries. In total, Starbucks products generated more than CHF 300 million of incremental sales in 2019. Nestlé Health Science made good progress, based on strong sales development for medical nutrition and Atrium products. Water was subdued, reflecting pricing pressure in the mainstream segment and soft demand in Europe. Vegetarian and plant-based food products, including the Sweet Earth Awesome Burger and the Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger, saw strong double-digit organic growth, reaching sales of close to CHF 200 million.
Net acquisitions had a negative impact of 0.8%, largely related to the divestment of Nestlé Skin Health and Gerber Life Insurance. Foreign exchange reduced sales by 1.5%. Total reported sales increased by 1.2% to CHF 92.6 billion.
Underlying Trading Operating Profit
Underlying trading operating profit increased by 4.8% to CHF 16.3 billion. The underlying trading operating profit margin reached 17.6%, an increase of 60 basis points in constant currency and on a reported basis.
Margin expansion was supported by structural cost reductions, portfolio management, pricing, and improved mix, which more than offset input cost inflation. Consumer-facing marketing expenses increased by 3.4% in constant currency.
Restructuring expenses and net other trading items increased by CHF 854 million to CHF 2.6 billion, largely reflecting increased impairments of assets related to the Yinlu business. As a result, trading operating profit decreased by 0.8% to CHF 13.7 billion and the trading operating profit margin decreased by 30 basis points on a reported basis to 14.8%.
Net Financial Expenses and Income Tax
Net financial expenses grew by 33.5% to CHF 1.0 billion, largely reflecting an increase in average net debt during the year.
The Group reported tax rate decreased by 550 basis points to 21.0% due to exceptional items including the sale of Nestlé Skin Health. The underlying tax rate declined by 220 basis points to 21.6%, mainly due to the evolution of the geographic and business mix.
Net Profit and Earnings Per Share
Net profit increased by 24.4% to CHF 12.6 billion, and earnings per share increased by 28.0% to CHF 4.30. Net profit benefited from the sale of Nestlé Skin Health.
Underlying earnings per share increased by 11.1% in constant currency and by 9.8% on a reported basis to CHF 4.41. The increase was mainly the result of improved operating performance. Nestlé’s share buyback program contributed 1.9% to the underlying earnings per share increase, net of finance costs.
Free cash flow grew by 10.9% to CHF 11.9 billion. The increase resulted from stronger operating performance and improved capital discipline. Cash flow is expected to remain at around 12% of sales, with working capital trending to zero.
At the Annual General Meeting on April 23, 2020, the Board of Directors will propose a dividend of CHF 2.70 per share, an increase of 25 centimes. If approved, this will be the company’s 25th consecutive annual dividend increase. The company has maintained or increased its dividend in Swiss francs over the last 60 years. Nestlé is committed to maintaining this long-held practice to increase the dividend in Swiss francs every year.
The last trading day with entitlement to receive the dividend will be April 24, 2020. The net dividend will be payable as from April 29, 2020.
Shareholders entered in the share register with voting rights on April 16, 2020, at 12:00 noon (CEST) will be entitled to exercise their voting rights.
Share Buyback Program
During 2019, the Group repurchased CHF 9.7 billion of Nestlé shares. On December 30, 2019, Nestlé completed the CHF 20 billion share buyback program initiated in July 2017 at an average price per share of CHF 88.82. On the same day, Nestlé announced that it will start a new share buyback program of up to CHF 20 billion. Share repurchases under this program are foreseen over a three-year period and commenced on January 3, 2020. Should any extraordinary dividend payments or sizeable acquisitions take place during this period, the amount of the share buyback will be reduced accordingly.
Net debt decreased to CHF 27.1 billion as of December 31, 2019, compared to CHF 30.3 billion at the end of 2018. The decrease in net debt largely reflected strong free cash flow generation and a net cash inflow from acquisitions and divestments, mainly the disposal of Nestlé Skin Health. This more than offset the CHF 16.9 billion returned to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks.
Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)
The Group’s ROIC increased by 20 basis points to 12.3%. The improvement was the result of improved operating performance and disciplined capital allocation. ROIC will trend towards 15% over time, including the impact of any future mid-sized acquisitions.
Nestlé completed acquisitions and divestments with a total value of around CHF 10.4 billion in 2019. The most significant transaction was the divestment of Nestlé Skin Health for CHF 10.2 billion.
In December 2019, an agreement was reached to sell Nestlé’s U.S. ice cream business for USD 4 billion to the Froneri ice cream joint venture with PAI Partners. The transaction was closed on January 31, 2020.
Nestlé also agreed to sell a 60% stake in its Herta charcuterie (cold cuts and meat-based products) business to Casa Tarradellas and create a new joint venture for Herta with the respective equity stakes of 40% and 60%. The total business has been valued at EUR 690 million. Closing is expected to take place in the first half of 2020.
In May 2019, Nestlé announced the transition of the U.S. pizza and ice cream businesses from a Direct-Store-Delivery network to a warehouse distribution model. The transition was successfully completed at the end of 2019, six months ahead of schedule.
In October 2019, Nestlé announced the integration of its Waters business into the Group’s three geographical Zones, effective January 1, 2020. This move will help utilize the company’s strong local expertise, better respond to rapidly-changing consumer preferences and create synergies. Nestlé will take further steps to improve profitable growth in Waters and to address underperformance in certain segments of this business.
Zone Americas (AMS)
- 3.9% organic growth: 2.6% RIG; 1.3% pricing.
- North America saw mid-single-digit organic growth, with positive RIG and pricing.
- Latin America reported mid-single-digit organic growth, with positive RIG and pricing.
- The underlying trading operating profit margin increased by 10 basis points to 21.1%.
Organic growth increased to 3.9%, supported by higher RIG of 2.6%. Pricing improved to 1.3% with positive contributions from both North and Latin America. Net acquisitions increased sales by 3.5%, largely related to the acquisition of the Starbucks license. Foreign exchange had a negative impact of 0.4%. Reported sales in Zone AMS increased by 7.0% to CHF 33.2 billion.
North America grew at a mid-single-digit pace. RIG was strong, reaching its highest level in the last decade, reflecting a pipeline of successful innovations and strong demand for premium products across categories. The largest contributors to organic growth were Purina PetCare and the beverages category. Purina PetCare saw strong sales development in e-commerce, premium brands such as Purina Pro Plan and Purina ONE, and veterinary products. Tidy Cats litter had double-digit growth. The beverages category saw high single-digit growth based on strong demand for Starbucks, Coffee-mate and Nescafé products. Gerber baby food returned to positive growth following innovations in the organic range and healthy snacking. The transition of the U.S. pizza and ice cream businesses from a Direct-Store-Delivery system to a warehouse distribution model was successfully completed ahead of time. Ice cream performed well helped by new product launches for Häagen-Dazs, Outshine and Drumstick. Frozen food posted low single-digit growth, supported by pizza, Hot Pockets and Stouffer’s.
Latin America posted mid-single-digit growth with positive contributions across all categories. Brazil reached mid-single-digit growth, supported by stronger sales in dairy, infant nutrition, KitKat and Nescafé. Mexico grew at a mid-single-digit rate with continued robust demand for Nescafé. Sales in Chile declined following a challenging trading environment in the fourth quarter. Latin America recorded double-digit growth for Purina PetCare and strong mid-single-digit growth in dairy and coffee.
The Zone’s underlying trading operating profit margin increased by 10 basis points. Pricing and structural cost reductions more than offset cost increases from commodity inflation and one-off Direct-Store-Delivery transition costs. Marketing and commercial investments increased to support innovation and brand building.
Zone Europe, Middle-East and North Africa (EMENA)
- 2.7% organic growth: 4.2% RIG; -1.5% pricing.
- Western Europe posted strong RIG and positive organic growth. Pricing was negative.
- Central and Eastern Europe maintained mid-single-digit organic growth with strong RIG. Pricing was slightly negative.
- The Middle East and North Africa saw mid-single-digit organic growth based on strong RIG and flat pricing.
- The underlying trading operating profit margin grew by 20 basis points to 18.9%
Organic growth was 2.7%, with a strong RIG of 4.2% supported by both volume and mix. RIG more than offset negative pricing of 1.5%, mainly related to coffee prices. Net acquisitions reduced sales by 0.2%. Foreign exchange negatively impacted sales by 3.0%. Reported sales in Zone EMENA decreased by 0.5% to CHF 18.8 billion.
Zone EMENA recorded its best RIG in the last five years. In a low-growth environment, Nestlé made broad-based market share gains across categories and geographies. Each sub-region had positive organic growth, with an acceleration in both Western Europe and Eastern Europe, particularly Russia. By category, the largest growth contributor was Purina PetCare, supported by Felix, Purina ONE and Tails.com. Infant nutrition grew at a mid-single-digit rate with strong growth in Eastern Europe and MENA. Innovation, in particular human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), contributed to growth. Coffee saw positive growth with mid-single-digit RIG, helped by the launch of Starbucks products in 28 countries. Confectionery maintained good momentum with strong growth for KitKat. Vegetarian and plant-based food products posted double-digit growth, supported by the expansion of the Garden Gourmet range with new offerings such as the Incredible Burger and Incredible Mince.
The Zone’s underlying trading operating profit margin increased by 20 basis points. This improvement was supported by structural cost reductions, operational efficiencies and product mix. Marketing and commercial investments increased to support innovation and brand building.
Zone Asia, Oceania and sub-Saharan Africa (AOA)
- 3.2% organic growth: 2.5% RIG; 0.7% pricing.
- China posted slightly positive organic growth, with flat RIG and positive pricing.
- South-East Asia and South Asia saw mid-single-digit organic growth, with strong RIG and positive pricing.
- Sub-Saharan Africa reached high single-digit organic growth, with strong RIG and positive pricing.
- Japan and Oceania had low single-digit organic growth, as strong RIG more than offset negative pricing.
- The underlying trading operating profit margin was unchanged at 22.7%.
Organic growth was 3.2%, with a RIG of 2.5% and pricing of 0.7%. Net acquisitions had a minimal negative impact of 0.1%. Foreign exchange reduced sales by 1.8%. Reported sales in Zone AOA increased by 1.3% to CHF 21.6 billion.
Zone AOA saw solid growth despite slower momentum in China and negative sales development in Pakistan due to challenging trading conditions.
China posted slightly positive growth, with some benefit in the fourth quarter from the timing of the Chinese New Year. Culinary, coffee and ice cream performed well. Infant nutrition in China slowed to slightly positive growth as strong sales momentum for illuma was largely offset by a decline for the S-26 range. Yinlu peanut milk and congee continued to see a decrease in sales.
South-East Asia posted good growth, with strong momentum in Indonesia and Vietnam. Bear Brand, ready-to-drink Milo, and Nescafé grew double-digit. South Asia grew at a mid-single-digit rate driven by strong growth in India. Maggi, NAN, and Nescafé performed well, helped by innovations and distribution expansion. Sub-Saharan Africa accelerated to mid-single-digit growth, supported by infant nutrition, Maggi and Nescafé. Japan and Oceania maintained low single-digit growth with strong demand for Purina PetCare products and the newly launched Starbucks range.
By product category, the largest contributions to the Zone’s growth came from culinary products, infant nutrition, and Purina PetCare. Infant nutrition maintained mid-single-digit growth, with good momentum in all markets except the S-26 range in China.
The Zone’s underlying trading operating profit margin was unchanged. Structural cost reductions, pricing, and favorable mix offset cost increases from commodity inflation. Marketing investments increased to support innovation and brand building.
- 0.2% organic growth: -1.9% RIG; 2.1% pricing.
- North America saw slightly positive organic growth. Positive pricing was mostly offset by negative RIG.
- Europe reported negative organic growth largely due to lower RIG. Pricing declined slightly.
- Emerging markets posted mid-single-digit organic growth, with strong pricing and positive RIG.
- The underlying trading operating profit margin increased by 80 basis points to 11.8%.
Organic growth was 0.2% as pricing increased by 2.1% and RIG declined by 1.9%. Net acquisitions reduced sales by 0.1%. Foreign exchange had a negative impact on sales of 0.9%. Reported sales in Nestlé Waters decreased by 0.8% to CHF 7.8 billion.
In North America, organic growth was slightly positive. International premium brands saw double-digit growth with strong demand for S.Pellegrino and Perrier in sparkling and Acqua Panna in still water. The ReadyRefresh direct-to-consumer business grew at a mid-single-digit rate, helped by pricing and the deployment of a new online platform. The mainstream segment, particularly the case-pack format and Nestlé Pure Life, remained challenging.
Europe saw negative growth with a weak second half of the year. Emerging markets posted mid-single-digit growth.
Nestlé Waters is managed and reported as part of the Group’s three geographical Zones since January 1, 2020.
The underlying trading operating profit margin increased by 80 basis points. The improvement was based on structural cost reductions and pricing. These more than offset higher PET packaging costs and higher marketing investments.
- 6.4% organic growth: 5.8% RIG; 0.6% pricing.
- Nespresso reported mid-single-digit organic growth driven by RIG. Pricing was positive.
- Nestlé Health Science posted high single-digit growth based entirely on strong RIG.
- Nestlé Skin Health saw high single-digit organic growth for the nine months of consolidation.
- The underlying trading operating profit margin of Other Businesses increased by 220 basis points to 18.7%.
Organic growth of 6.4% was supported by a strong RIG of 5.8% and pricing of 0.6%. Net acquisitions decreased reported sales by 14.1%, due to the divestment of Nestlé Skin Health. Foreign exchange had a negative impact of 1.7%. Reported sales in Other Businesses decreased by 9.4% to CHF 11.2 billion.
Nespresso maintained mid-single-digit organic growth, with positive growth across all regions. North America grew at a strong double-digit rate, outpacing market growth. The Vertuo system was the main growth contributor as it continued to gain traction globally. The out-of-home segment also saw good momentum, particularly in France and the United States.
Nestlé Health Science grew at a high single-digit rate, supported by strong growth in Medical Nutrition and Atrium products in Consumer Care. This reflected a pipeline of successful innovations and strong growth in the e-commerce channel. In September, Nestlé Health Science expanded into personalized nutrition with the acquisition of Persona, a leading personalized vitamin business.
Nestlé Skin Health posted high single-digit growth for the nine months of consolidation until September.
The underlying trading operating profit margin of Other Businesses increased by 220 basis points. This was the result of broad-based improvements across all businesses.
Our business as a force for good: Shaping the new plastics economy
Packaging and plastics play a key role in preventing food waste and ensuring the quality and safety of food products. However, the leakage of plastic waste into the environment has become a significant environmental challenge.
Nestlé’s commitment is to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. In the same period, Nestlé will reduce its use of virgin plastics by one third. This will be achieved by creating a market for food-grade recycled plastics and boosting packaging innovation whilst working with others to advance the circular economy.
Creating a market for food-grade recycled plastics. Making recycled plastics safe for direct contact with food is an enormous challenge for our industry. This is technically feasible and economically viable for PET, but not yet for other types of plastics. Nestlé is leading the shift to recycled plastics approved for direct contact with food and beverages. The company has committed to sourcing up to 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics between now and 2025. To create a market, Nestlé is allocating more than CHF 1.5 billion to pay a premium for these materials over the same period. These costs will be offset through operational efficiencies to keep this initiative earnings neutral.
Boosting packaging innovation. In 2019, Nestlé opened the Institute for Packaging Sciences to accelerate the development of safe, functional and environmentally-friendly packaging solutions. The company aims to speed up the deployment of innovative packaging solutions. Nestlé looks at the full range of options such as reusable and refillable systems, new materials as well as simplified and recycled packaging materials. In order to complement its in-house research with external developments, Nestlé launched a CHF 250 million sustainable packaging venture fund to invest in start-up companies specialized in innovative packaging solutions and recycling technologies.
These initiatives are part of Nestlé’s broader sustainability agenda. They contribute to the company’s goal to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As part of these commitments and to increase transparency, Nestlé will continue to outline further initiatives and provide regular progress updates.
Nestlé today also announced that it proposes Hanne Jimenez de Mora for election to its Board of Directors (see separate press release).
2020 Outlook: Nestlé expects a continued increase in organic sales growth. The company foresees further organic sales growth acceleration in 2021/2022 towards sustainable mid-single-digit growth. The underlying trading operating profit margin is expected to see continued improvement. 2020 restructuring costs are expected at around CHF 500 million. Underlying earnings per share in constant currency and capital efficiency are expected to increase. It is too early to quantify the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak at this time.