PARIS — Givaudan reported a 0.4 percent increase in first-quarter sales, crediting a strong project pipeline.

Revenues at the Vernier, Switzerland-based fragrance and flavors supplier reached 1.1 billion Swiss francs, or $1.15 billion, in the three months ended March 31. On a like-for-like basis, sales gained 0.9 percent.

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“In a challenging economic environment, characterized by a slowdown in the developing markets of Asia and Eastern Europe, Givaudan started the year with a stable business momentum against high comparables in 2014,” the company stated.

Sales in group’s fragrance division increased 0.7 percent to 519 million Swiss francs, or $545.7 million. In like-for-like terms, they grew 0.3 percent.

Flavor division revenues came to 572 million Swiss francs, or $601.4 million, up 0.1 percent on a reported basis and 1.5 percent on a like-for-like basis.

In comparable terms, fine fragrance sales were down 1.8 percent versus a double-digit prior-year comparable; consumer products revenues grew 1.1 percent with solid growth in emerging markets; and sales of fragrance ingredients declined 0.6 percent against a solid first-quarter 2014.

Company sales dipped 1.1 percent in mature markets to 593 million Swiss francs, or $623.5 million, while they gained 2.1 percent to 498 million Swiss francs, or $523.6 million, in developing markets.

Dollar figures are calculated at average exchange for the period to which they refer.

Givaudan reiterated its mid-term objectives of growing organically between 4.5 percent and 5.5 percent annually, assuming market growth of 2 percent to 3 percent, and continued market-share gains.

The company expects to outgrow the underlying market and to target an annual free cash flow of 14 percent to 16 percent of sales by 2015.

“Givaudan confirms its intention to return above 60 percent of the company’s free cash flow to shareholders while maintaining a medium-term leverage ratio target below 25 percent,” it stated.

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