AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS — Groupe Danone on Nov. 18 said it expects like-for-like sales growth of nearly 4% in the second half of 2009 and underlying earnings-per-share growth of better than 10% for fiscal 2009. The company also established medium-term objectives of like-for-like annual sales growth of 5% and annual free cash flow from operations to reach €2 billion by 2012. The objectives followed two days of meetings as part of an investor seminar in Amsterdam.

"The world at large has gone, and is still going through, a profound transformational phase that will have a long-lasting impact on society and on consumer behavior in specific," said Emmanuel Faber, co-chief operating officer of Danone. "Our market share gains in 2009 are an evidence of the continued unparalleled ability of our brands to create value for our consumers, once adapted to the new macro-economic conditions. We are, more than ever, convinced of the relevance of our mission to ‘bring health through food to the largest number of people.’

"We are also convinced that the strength and uniqueness of our business models and our leading market positions will enable us to succeed in this mission and to deliver a strong and sustainable long-term performance.

"We will therefore continue to focus on delivering above category top-line growth, which will be predominantly driven by volume growth. The constituents of our top-line growth as well as our continued focus on cost competitiveness will remain the key drivers of our value creation. In addition, the last 12 to 18 months have reinforced the competitive importance of generating cash."