Strong Majorities for the Board's Proposals at the Nestlé S.A. General Meeting

Back to Press releasesLausanne,Apr 3, 2003

2002 : Record performance in a difficult environment

Nestlé expects another performance improvement in constant currencies for the current year despite economic and political uncertainty
Dividend increased to CHF 7.– per share

2,020 shareholders of Nestlé S.A., representing 26.6% of the capital, attended today's General Meeting of the Company in Lausanne. The annual report, the accounts and the release of the Board of Directors and of the management were approved by strong majorities. The shareholders also accepted the proposed dividend increase to CHF 7.– per share, up 9.4% from last year.

In his review of 2002, Chairman Rainer E. Gut noted that the Group progressed "in all essential areas" despite an environment marked by uncertainty. "EBITA increased by 9.5% to CHF 10.9 billion, which represents a margin of 12.3% against 11.8% in 2001. As far as our sales are concerned, they increased by 5.3% to reach CHF 89.2 billion, even though changes in exchange rates reduced our sales expressed in Swiss francs by 8%. (...) Our net profit reached CHF 7.6 billion, an increase of 13.2% over 2001, the net margin progressing from 7.9% to 8.5%."

Addressing perspectives for the present year, and referring to the 1st quarter sales figures that will be disclosed on April 23, Mr. R.E. Gut stated: "In any case, as we said when we announced our full-year results in February, it is clear that we continue to face an unfavorable environment, especially in the currency sector. In these circumstances, we will continue with the same priorities as in 2002 and we are confident that, in constant currencies, we will be able to improve once more the Group's performance this year." Earlier, the Chairman had made it clear that achieving targets for real internal growth in a given period would not come at the expense of margins and profitability.

The shareholders re-elected Mr. Peter Böckli for a new five-year term and elected Mr. Andreas Koopmann, Chief Executive Officer of Bobst S.A., Lausanne, as a new member of the Board of Nestlé S.A. for a five-year term. Chairman Rainer E. Gut expressed his appreciation for the contribution of Mr. Stephan Schmidheiny, who decided to retire from the Board after 15 years of service.