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Nestle Report Missed Sales Targets – Markets React

Analyst Team trader
Updated 25 Apr 2024

In a surprising turn of events, Nestle (SWX: NESN), the world’s leading packaged food company, reported a lower-than-expected organic sales growth in the first quarter, sparking a pullback early in trading.

The Swiss multinational's performance fell short of estimates due to price hikes which led to a reduction in sales volumes, with frozen pizza sales in the US market being one of those areas to see declines. The company's share price has fallen 4.15% this morning as data came through.

Nestle's first-quarter saw organic sales inch up by a mere 1.4%, failing to meet market expectations that had anticipated a more robust start to the year. The total reported sales were no less disconcerting, with a decrease of 5.9%, bringing the figure down to 22.1 billion Swiss Francs. This downturn has notably coincided with a broader trend of slowing consumer demand in the wake of price increases across the packaged goods industry.

Despite a subdued beginning to 2023, Nestle’s management remains steadfast in their projections for the coming year. The company has reaffirmed its 2024 guidance, expecting an organic sales growth of approximately 4% coupled with a moderate increase in underlying trading profit margin. This optimism seems to be underpinned by CEO Mark Schneider’s confidence in a rebound in sales volumes during the second quarter.


Market experts have met Nestle’s slow start with a reserved standpoint. Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy dubbed the performance as “uninspiring”, reflecting the general sense of unease surrounding Nestle's latest financial report.

On a strategic front, Nestle has honed its focus on innovation and commercial activities, especially pertaining to the North American frozen food segment. This targeted approach aligns with the company's broader commitment to adapt to consumer trends and competitive pressures.

The downturn in sales volumes has been ascribed to two principal factors: the deterrent effect of higher prices on consumer purchasing behaviour, and the growing popularity of cheaper brands among consumers looking to stretch their budgets. These trends represent clear challenges that Nestle must navigate as it strives to reclaim momentum in subsequent quarters.

Despite the escalation of costs, which Nestle referred to in recent quarters, the company is now observing a slower pace of cost increase and has begun to temper the rate at which prices are heightened. This strategy reflects an attempt to balance profitability against the risk of alienating cost-sensitive consumers. These costs have had an impact on the longer term picture for shareholders, with Nestle stock now more than 21% down over the last 12 months.

Analysts in recent times have also not responded well to the performance, with notable downgrades from Jefferies, Berenberg, RBC Capital, Stifel, and JP Morgan all dropping price targets over the past weeks. Despite this, the longer term outlook is not so bad for some firms, with the consensus mark a shade over $118 representing a 15% potential upside from the current level. More adjustments may be on the cards after the call, but we will have to watch and wait.

For now, the current financial landscape can be unforgiving for companies like Nestle, which have long enjoyed positions of market leadership. As the company anticipates a turnaround in the next quarter, stakeholders will be watching with keen interest to see if Nestle's strategies will yield the projected growth amidst an evolving packaged food industry.

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The AskTraders Analyst Team features experts in technical and fundamental analysis, as well as traders specializing in stocks, forex, and cryptocurrency.