Barry Callebaut profits up despite I.Coast unrest

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Swiss chocolate and cocoa giant Barry Callebaut on Friday posted a 9.0 percent rise in first half net profit and said it would meet targets for its financial year despite unrest in Ivory Coast.

Net profit reached 158.8 million francs (121.8 million euros, $172.1 million) for the six-month period up to February 28, 2011, said the group, up from 145.7 million francs a year ago.

Sales were up 3.1 percent to 2.7 billion francs, dampened by the strong Swiss currency.

Despite the ongoing power tussle in Ivory Coast, the world's biggest cocoa-producing country, the group said that it was "confident that its good performance in the past six months will continue in the second half of fiscal year 2010/11."

Barry Callebault has set up a contingency plan to deal with the unrest in Ivory Coast, increasing its sourcing and production activities in other countries.

"We believe we have taken those steps necessary to enable us to honour our customer contracts and meet our commitments during 2011," it said.

Ivory Coast's cocoa industry has been strangled by international sanctions trying to choke off strongman Laurent Gbagbo's economic power and force him to step down from the presidency.

But on Thursday, fighters backing internationally recognised Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara seized control of the West African country's biggest cocoa exporting port, San Pedro, sending cocoa futures falling.

© 2011 AFP

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