Cadbury ups sales forecast against takeover

LONDON: British confectioner Cadbury on Wednesday stepped up its defence against a takeover by US giant Kraft Foods by upgrading its full-year sales forecast after a third-quarter rise.

"The strength of our operating performance continues to underpin the board's confidence in both our growth prospects and the potential for creating further, material shareholder value," Cadbury chairman Roger Carr said in a trading update statement.

In reaction to a seven-percent gain in third-quarter sales, Cadbury upgraded its 2009 revenue forecast to the middle of its 4-6 percent range from the previous lower-end forecast.

A stronger sales outlook makes a takeover of Cadbury less attractive to its shareholders, who are likely to judge that the company is profitable enough without being merged with a bigger company.

"As expected, Cadbury is using this positive trading statement as part of its defence against the Kraft bid," said Cazenove analyst Polly Barclay.

Kraft Foods has until November 9 to lodge a formal takeover bid for Cadbury, Britain's takeover watchdog ordered last month.

Kraft had made an informal 10.2-billion-pound (16.7-billion-dollar, 11.7 billion-euro) offer for Cadbury in September. But Cadbury, led by American chief executive Todd Stitzer, rejected the bid, arguing that it "fundamentally undervalued" the group.

Should Kraft fail to make a formal offer before the November 9 deadline, it would be unable to do so again for at least six months, according to British takeover rules.

Cadbury is the world's second biggest confectionery company behind Mars and its chocolate brands include Dairy Milk chocolate and Trident chewing gum.

Kraft, the world's second biggest snacks group after Nestle, makes numerous snack products including Oreo cookies, Kenco coffee and Milka chocolate.

Kraft had proposed to pay 300 pence in cash and 0.2589 new Kraft Foods shares per Cadbury share. This valued each Cadbury share at 745 pence.

On Wednesday following publication of the earnings update, Cadbury's share price rose 0.31 percent to stand at 801 pence on London's benchmark FTSE 100 index, which was up also by about one third of a percent.