UPDATE 2-Lindt sees luxury chocolate demand outweighing cocoa costs
* Net profit up 23.7 pct to 303 mln Sfr
* In line with 306 mln Sfr forecast in poll
* Confirms long-term growth target
* Shares down 2.4 pct after strong run
By Silke Koltrowitz
ZURICH, March 11 (Reuters) - Growing demand for luxury chocolates in Europe and increasingly the Americas and Asia should help Lindt & Spruengli to grow sales and profit margins this year, despite high cocoa prices, it said on Tuesday.
The Swiss maker of Lindor chocolate balls and gold foil- wrapped chocolate bunnies posted a 23.7 percent rise in 2013 net profit, and confirmed its long-term goals for 6-8 percent sales growth and a 20-40 basis point improvement in operating margin.
Chocolate makers saw sluggish growth last year, but Lindt fared better than many thanks to consumer demand for affordable luxuries, which helped it to gain market share in its main region of Europe and grow rapidly elsewhere.
Barry Callebaut, the world's biggest chocolate supplier, said in January that sales of gourmet chocolates were fuelling a pick up in demand for chocolate. Continuación...