Despite hiking consumer prices to cover "substantially" increased raw material costs, the planet's largest food manufacturer lifted Q1 sales by a robust 14.1% to SFr22.8 billion ($17.97bn; €14.48bn; £10.05bn), exceeding analysts' expectations.

Commenting on Tuesday's data, Nestlé chairman/ceo Peter Brabeck said: "Given our higher pricing and the fact that we will be up against a stronger base for the balance of the year, I am able to confirm our guidance for 2006 of organic growth between 5% and 6%."

The food and beverages titan also reported robust year-on-year organic growth during the first quarter.

By region:
Europe 2.8%
Americas 6.6%
Asia / Oceania / Africa 8.3%

By product category:
Nutrition 5.2
Other 20.3
Food/beverages 6.4
Pharma 10
Total 6.7%

Even the haruspices were impressed. Credit Suisse research analyst Charlie Mills hailed the organic growth in food and beverages as "impressive", declaring himself "encouraged" by Nestlé's performance in Europe, driven by the Petcare division, and double digit growth in Russia.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff