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             1999 was a good year for Nestlé. With an increase in net profit of 12.3% to CHF 4724Million and a significant improvement in all performance indicators, the Group in 1999 produced its best results ever. Consolidated sales rose to CHF 74 660 million, up 4.1%, and the net profit margin reached 6.3%. Trading profit increased by nearly 12% to 10.6% of sales. Nestlé thus showed that growth and performance need not be mutually exclusive, even in an environment that was far from favorable everywhere. .
             The year in review was indeed not easy. It is true that the strength of the dollar and the yen have almost entirely offset the depreciation of the Brazilian real, sharply reducing the negative impact of exchange rates that it experienced in recent years. Nevertheless, the depreciation of the real, the currency of a key market in the Nestlé Group, pushed our consolidated sales down by nearly CHF 1.5 billion. All the more reason then to be pleased that real internal growth once again improved, to 3.6%. This shows that the Company can adapt and seize market opportunities even in difficult times. Nestlé made excellent progress in North America and in some Asian countries. In Western Europe, consumers have at last regained confidence; and perspectives look good in general. Finally, toward the end of the year, the countries of Eastern Europe also started showing signs of growth, while only some South American countries seem to be climbing out of the recession. Among our activities, Alcon, the water business, the joint ventures, nutrition and products for out-of-home consumption saw a particularly good development. .
             The trading profit margin grew by 11.8% and the trading profit now stands at CHF 7914 million. That corresponds to 10.6% of sales. Nestlé achieved CHF 4724 million in net profit, the highest ever.

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