Nestle posts huge 2010 profit of 34.2 bn francs

The world’s biggest food company Nestle on Thursday posted 34.2 billion francs ($35.7 billion, 26.3 billion euros) in 2010 net profits, strongly boosted by its disposal of stakes in eyecare group Alcon.

The sale of Alcon shares to Swiss health giant Novartis contributed 24.5 billion francs to Nestle’s bottomline, which reached more than three times the 10.4 billion francs it earned in 2009.

The Swiss-based group also issued a positive outlook for 2011, saying that it was starting the year with “continued momentum, well placed to face uncertainties ahead, including volatile raw material prices.”

Sales generated by the food giant reached 104.6 billion francs, in line with analysts’ expectations.

“In 2010, we delivered another year of strong top and bottom line growth, outperforming the market,” said Paul Bulcke, Nestle chief executive officer.

The group proposed therefore to cancel some 25 billion francs worth of shares bought back last year, as well as another 10 billion francs worth to be repurchased this year, a move that could strengthen share prices.

It also offered a 15.6 percent increase in dividends to 1.85 francs per share.

The group also announced it was proposing to elect a new member, former UNICEF chief Ann Veneman, to its board.