PARIS, July 25 (Reuters) - French food group Danone posted a worse-than-expected 10 percent fall in first-half operating profit on Friday, hit by weak sales of dairy products in Europe and baby food in Asia.
The world’s largest yoghurt maker, whose brands include Actimel and Activia, said it expected dairy sales in Europe to stabilise by the end of the year, and said it was keeping its full year profit and sales outlook.
First-half operating profit fell to 1.180 billion euros ($1.59 billion), with like-for-like sales rising 2.2 percent to 10.467 billion.
First-half operating margin fell by 159 basis points to 11.27 percent of sales.
The result was below a company compiled consensus of analysts for first-half operating profit of 1.208 billion euros and an operating margin of 11.40 percent.
Danone is aiming to rebuild its position in China after an infant formula product recall in Asia last year. It also gets 60 percent of its revenue from dairy products, a sector hit by a spike in milk prices and weak consumer spending austerity-hit Europe, where Danone plans to shut three plants.
For 2014, Danone said it kept a target of like-for-like sales growth of 4.5-5.5 percent and operating margin changing by no more than 20 basis points from 13.19 percent a year earlier.
$1 = 0.7426 Euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Andrew Callus